Nassau County approves $408 million bond plan for sewage system project
Nassau County in concert with New York State will attack a nitrogen pollution problem near the Jones Beach coastline with a newly approved borrowing plan.
The county legislature unanimously passed a $408 million bond resolution Monday to fund construction of a system to divert treated wastewater from the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant in East Rockway, N.Y. The Bay Park Conveyance Project, which New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo first announced in 2017, will connect the 1949-built East Rockaway facility with an outfall pipe at the Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control plant in nearby Wantagh situated around three miles off of Jones Beach.
"The Bay Park Conveyance Project will help prevent the major source of nitrogen pollution from degrading marsh islands and damaging the delicate ecosystem that helps protect Long Island's coast from devastating waves and storm surges," Cuomo said in a statement. "New York's innovative efforts to improve our infrastructure will be instrumental in protecting water quality and will support stronger, more resilient communities that are prepared to withstand extreme weather."
The Bay Park plant serves more than half a million Nassau County residents and discharges an average of 52 million gallons of treated wastewater daily that contain nitrogen, which have caused environmental damage to the West Bays waterways along Long Island’s South Shore. In addition to concerns about the environment, state officials also noted that scientific studies have linked excess nitrogen to the disintegration of coastal marsh islands that are used as a resilient barrier to storm surge and associated waves.
“The Bay Park Conveyance Project is among Governor Cuomo's top priorities, because this sewage treatment plant plays a critical role in the health of Long Island's environment and the viability of its economy,” State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement. “With county bond funding approved, and a qualified and committed team coming together to expedite this critical project, we are another step closer to restoring the health and resiliency of Nassau County's Western Bays.”
State officials said an unused 100-year old aqueduct in usable condition that Nassau County discovered can be used to connect the Bay Park plant to the existing Cedar Creek ocean outfall would save at least $200 million and enable an expedited completion schedule. Previous estimates projected the project costing more than $600 million and taking nearly a decade to finish.
The project includes construction of a two-mile, 72-inch pipe system that connects the plant to the county-owned aqueduct that runs under state-operated Sunrise Highway. Funds will also be used to rehab an eight-mile stretch of the aqueduct by removing the 14 gate valves. A two-mile pipe would then be built to link with the existing six-and-a-half mile-long Cedar Creek outfall pipe and carry treated effluent nearly three miles into the deep Atlantic Ocean waters.
"I am pleased that we are steadily moving along with the crucial Bay Park project, which upon completion will result in cleaner water, a healthier environment, and more resilient coastal communities on Nassau's south shore,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement.
The projects builds off of $830 million of state and federal funds that have been invested toward a multi-year rebuild of the Bay Park plant after the 70-year old facility suffered heavy damage from Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Nassau County is installing two nitrogen treatment systems at the Bay Park facility from these funds to reduce nitrogen concentrations in treated wastewater by up to 50%.
Nassau County has previously explored a public-private partnership for its three wastewater facilities. County officials estimated leasing the sewer system to a private company could net between $650 million and $1 billion.