By Eden Laikin
Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano welcomed state environmental and storm recovery officials to Mineola this week, to discuss funding to help protect Nassau’s waterways, marshlands and groundwater – through improvements to the Sandy-damaged Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant.
Construction of a new ocean outfall pipe for Bay Park was number one on the County Executive’s priority list. Currently, discharge from three wastewater treatment plants empties into Reynolds Channel and the rest of the Western Bays. A new outfall pipe would send the effluent 2-miles off shore, into the Atlantic Ocean. Additional improvements to the system that takes nitrogen out of the wastewater, as part of the treatment process, would make the outflow into the Atlantic Ocean even safer.
During Monday’s public hearing of the Long Island Water Task Force – held in the legislative chambers of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building – Mangano testified before New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens; New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation President and CEO Matthew Driscoll; Director of Governor Cuomo’s Office of Storm Recovery Jamie Rubin; and NYS DEC Assistant Commissioner for Water Resources James Tierney.
County Executive Mangano thanked Governor Cuomo, whom he called an “environmental leader”, as well as the residents who fought with him for much needed aid to Nassau County and specifically the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant.
Supporters from various environmental groups, including Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Sludge Stoppers and Operation Splash – as well as community leaders from Bay Park, Island Park, Point Look Out and Long Beach – joined the hearing to voice support for constructing an ocean outfall pipe and achieving much needed improvements to the Western Bays.
Local members of Congress – Peter King, Steve Israel, Gregory Meeks, Carolyn McCarthy, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand – have been on the forefront of the rebuilding of the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant and have joined the call for funding for the ocean outfall.
“We have worked tirelessly together as one team; thank you again,” Mangano said.
Hurricane Sandy dumped over 9 feet of tidal surge throughout the Bay Park Sewage Treatment plant, leading to a complete shutdown. Since then, work has begun to rebuild a more resilient, stronger plant. The County has also been working to repair roads, bridges, parks, schools, libraries, hospitals, and many other types of critical infrastructure, in the 18 months since Sandy hit the area.
“Because of all of you we have achieved a great deal of success in Nassau County over the past 18 months,” Mangano said. “We have received an award of $810 million from FEMA for the permanent repair and hazard mitigation of the bay park facility and several pump stations. Work has also commenced on more than $200 million in contracts awarded through bid. The county has undertaken a state of the art pilot program that would begin the removal of nitrogen from the effluent, resulting in 30% lower levels of nitrogen in the effluent.”
Mangano added that in keeping with the County’s desire to improve ground water, he has recently entered into a jointly funded contract with the USGS and local water districts to begin a comprehensive testing program of our ground water.
In conjunction with FEMA, the County has also entered into a $14 million contract for the removal of debris in our water ways. An in-depth sonar mapping of our water ways after Sandy detected hundreds of cars, boats, tanks, old piers homes, etc. located under water submerged and on several of our islands.
New, innovative projects include providing new ways of managing rainwater and stormwater so it’s not just sent into the ocean,” but rather is allowed to infiltrate into our deep fresh-water aquifers which are the source of Nassau’s drinking water.”
“We are here today because we have a once in a generation opportunity to solve two critical problems – at the same time: the ecological health of the Western Bay Region, and the resiliency of the entire Southern Nassau Region,” Mangano told those gathered at the hearing. “With all of your help, I am certain that we will achieve every goal we set to improve and protect our waterways, marshlands and groundwater.”