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Making Progress at the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant

Updates at the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant will protect the Western Bays

The Western Bays were once productive fishing and shellfishing grounds, but excessive nitrogen loading from the South Shore Water Reclamation Facility, or SSWRF (formerly the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant) and Long Beach Sewage Treatment Plant have led to degraded water quality, excessive seaweed growth, and massive shellfish die-offs.  Despite significant improvements to the SSWRF after Superstorm Sandy and investments in state-of-the-art treatment technologies, nitrogen pollution from each sewage treatment plant continues to threaten water quality, public health, and the local economy on the south shore of Nassau County.

After years of advocating for funding for an ocean outfall pipe for the SSWRF, we are closer than ever to a fix for the Western Bays.  Instead of building a new ocean outfall pipe, Nassau County has been studying using an aqueduct under Sunrise Highway to connect the SSWRF and Long Beach Sewage Treatment Plant to an existing outfall pipe at the Cedar Creek Sewage Treatment Plant.  The aqueduct, which was once used to transport water to New York City, has been studied by Nassau County and is reported to be in “very good condition”.  While a full environmental review is slated to begin next year, the early reports from the County are very promising and could provide a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable solution for our Western Bays.

Under this new plan, the Long Beach Sewage Treatment Plant would be connected to the SSWRF, where the effluent from each sewage treatment plant would undergo advanced treatment to reduce nitrogen by 50%. Then, the treated effluent would be directly connected to the Cedar Creek outfall pipe through the aqueduct, bypassing the Cedar Creek sewage treatment plant entirely and emitting the cleanest effluent in the NY-NJ area.  Once the waste is diverted to an ocean outfall pipe, the Western Bays are expected to make a full and speedy ecological recovery.  

This solution not only saves the Western Bays, but protects our ocean.  Excessive nitrogen from the SSWRF and Long Beach Sewage Treatment Plant are causing the unprecedented amounts of green seaweed washing up on ocean beaches this year. Plus, with a quicker construction period and a $200 million cost savings versus building a new outfall pipe, this plan is a win-win for the public. 

To stay up-to-date with the latest news on Western Bays protection and our other campaigns to protect Long Island’s water resources, become a member of the Long Island Clean Water Partnership today: sign-up here.

By: Jordan Christensen, Citizens Campaign for the Environment

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