Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions


Source: LI Herald

Bay Park sewage plant earns a B+

Environmental watchdogs say Bay Park has made progress


Posted: October 6, 2016
Originally Published: October 5, 2016

The Western Bays Coalition, an environmental watchdog group, held a press conference at Operation SPLASH headquarters in Freeport on Sept. 28 to reveal its report card for the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant — which the coalition has concluded is improving under new management. It gave the plant a grade of B+.

Three years ago, the then-county-operated plant, which processes 42 percent of Nassau County’s sewage, was hit with 127 violations by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The Western Bays Coalition demanded that Nassau County seek outside help in rebuilding the plant. Effluent dumped into the Western Bays and Reynolds Channel has high levels of nitrogen, causing environmental damage and the loss of marine life.

In July 2014, Nassau County hired waste management company United Water to maintain the sewage plant’s round-the-clock operations — no small task, especially in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which struck the plant with a nine-foot tidal surge, throwing it offline for two days and sending raw and partially treated sewage into nearby homes and streets. United changed its name to Suez at the end of last year.

According to the WBC’s report card, which listed 10 objectives to be addressed at the plant, Suez earned 89 out of 100 possible points. Suez’s B+ grade is a vast improvement over the F the county earned three years ago. Suez was graded on its efforts to reduce nitrogen, odor and noise from the plant.

“We’re happy to report great progress,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “The management of the plant is better, the effluent is cleaner, the odor complaints are down and community transparency is up. We’re delighted, and we want the public to know progress is being made.”

Esposito said that more than 80 percent of the nitrogen being loaded into the Western Bays is coming from the Bay Park plant. The county is still working on two denitrification technologies, biological nutrient removal and side stream, which, Esposito said, would reduce nitrogen by half and are slated for use in 2018.

A 10-mile stretch of Nassau County’s South Shore, from the Rockaway Inlet to the Jones Inlet, is polluted, according to Operation SPLASH President Rob Weltner. “To leave things the way they are now is just not acceptable,” he said, “for us now, or for our children in the future.”

The improvements under Suez include discontinuing the use of outdoor generators to curtail noise, and new odor-reducing technologies. The county was graded a zero out of 10 on noise and odor reduction by the coalition in 2013, while Suez earned a perfect score.

“We’re really happy with what we’ve requested and what Suez has done,” said Scott Bochner, co-founder of Sludge Stoppers, who lives near Reynolds Channel.

Esposito reiterated that the coalition’s long-term goal is to have the treated sewage piped all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. One option is the construction of a new outfall pipe from the Bay Park plant to the ocean, redirecting the effluent from Reynolds Channel to three miles out into the Atlantic, where it is diluted and dispersed in the ocean’s currents. Another possibility would be to use a water viaduct that runs parallel to Sunrise Highway to transfer treated effluent from Bay Park to the Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant in Wantagh, which has an ocean outfall pipe. A new outfall pipe at Bay Park would cost $550 million, while using Cedar Creek’s existing pipe would cost $250 million, according to Esposito.

“While we are very happy with the progress — and there has been progress — we know we have a long way to go,” Esposito said. “We’re going to stay on it and stay committed by overseeing this, making sure the work gets done and bringing back our bays. We will never give up on an ocean outfall pipe. That’s the end goal, and we need for Nassau County to stick with that and make sure it happens.”