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Save Our Western Bays: A Cleaner Bay, A Cleaner Ocean

To be delivered to: Governor Cuomo, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate
Bay Park STP. Click Image for Gallery
An ocean outfall pipe and nitrogen removal are both critically needed at the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) on Long Island in order to save our bays, ensure cleaner ocean beaches, protect public health, and preserve Long Island’s quality of life. I urge the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Governor Cuomo to secure additional funding for an ocean outfall pipe and upgrade the plant to remove nitrogen at the Bay Park STP.

Background

Long Island’s Western Bays were once highly productive fishing and shellfishing grounds containing the largest concentration of salt marshes in the South Shore Estuary Reserve. Unfortunately, this once vibrant ecosystem has been experiencing ongoing and accelerating water pollution, excessive Ulva (seaweed) growth, degraded salt marshes, low oxygen levels, and disappearing shellfish harvesting. Sewage and excessive nitrogen from the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) are culprits to the problem.

To address the problem, the science is clear: The Bay Park STP outfall pipe must be relocated to the Atlantic Ocean, and the plant must be upgraded to remove nitrogen. FEMA has allocated $810 million to repair and upgrade the Bay Park STP; however, more must be done. Additional funding is needed for an ocean outfall pipe and nitrogen removal to complete the upgrade for the Bay Park STP. An ocean outfall is necessary to save our bays, ensure cleaner ocean beaches, protect public health, and preserve our quality of life.
  • The Bay Park STP services 42% of Nassau County residents—approximately 550,000 people.
  • Being one of the oldest STPs on Long Island, Bay Park has a long history of troubles and violations, resulting in billions of gallons of raw and partially treated sewage being released.
  • The Bay Park and Long Beach STPs contribute 80% of the nitrogen to the entire Western Bays complex.
  • Excessive nitrogen entering the Western Bays is causing seaweed so dense that it not only depletes precious oxygen from the waterways, but it also stifles marine life at the bay bottom. In addition, when mass amounts of seaweed wash up on shore, it ruins beaches and adversely impacts human health.
  • During Superstorm Sandy, nine and a half feet of seawater flooded the Bay Park STP, resulting in the entire plant shutting down and approximately 2.2 billion gallons of raw and partially treated sewage being discharged into the Western Bays. Sewage backed up onto streets, into homes, and defiled the bays, creating health hazards, causing millions of dollars in damages, and threatening the ecosystem. Had this happened during the summer months, it would have triggered serious human health crises at the time when residents and response crews were already overburdened with many other storm-related emergencies.
  • Discharging Bay Park effluent further away from high density coastal communities and sensitive enclosed embayment is the safest and most prudent course of action.
  • With better mixing in the ocean, advanced treatment standards, and vigilant monitoring, water quality will improve in the bay and along beaches.

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