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Source: LI Herald

Officials update plans as Sunrise Highway aqueduct deemed in 'very good condition'


Posted: June 15, 2017
Originally Published: June 15, 2017

Engineers have determined that the 110-year-old aqueduct running underneath Sunrise Highway is in “very good condition,” and county officials are preparing for the next stages of a proposed project to refurbish and upgrade the pipe to transport treated sewage from Bay Park to Cedar Creek.

“The pipe is structurally sound and has maintained its oval shape,” said County Executive Ed Mangano. Most of the aqueduct has been studied, and officials say the remainder of the pipe — which was constructed between 1890 and 1892, and enlarged in 1900, to bring fresh water from Long Island’s streams, ponds and lakes to New York City — is expected to be analyzed within the next two weeks, according to Mary Studdert, a Nassau County Department of Public Works spokeswoman.

The goal of the study is to determine whether the pipe could be used to transfer treated effluent from the Bay Park Water Reclamation Facility to the Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant on the Wantagh-Seaford border. Once the study is completed, the county will next issue a request for proposals to hire an engineering firm for detailed design services, Studdert said. The plans will include a new pumping facility at the Bay Park plant, a new pipe from the Bay Park plant to the aqueduct, rehabilitation of the aqueduct with an internal lining and a new pipe from the aqueduct to the Cedar Creek facility.

The estimated cost of the project, Studdert said, is $360 million, which would mostly come from state and federal grants, and it likely would not be completed until 2022. She added that the detailed design stage is set to begin this summer and should be completed along with an environmental review by early 2019. Construction is expected to begin by mid-2019 and will take up to two and a half to three years to complete.

The Bay Park plant now discharges treated wastewater into Reynolds Channel from a cement pipe north of the Long Beach fishing pier. The sewage is loaded with nitrogen, which has caused significant damage to the marsh and marine life in the Western Bays.

According to Studdert, the treated effluent from Bay Park will be limited to a maximum of 75 million gallons per day through the Cedar Creek pipe, which she said is in good condition. Any increase in the amount would be discharged through the existing Bay Park pipe, but Studdert noted that it would only occur about 1 percent of the time.

“The project will be designed to meet all environmental requirements,” Studdert said. “The project will be subject to the State Environmental Quality Review Act. We will focus on construction methods that have the least impact to the environment and residents, such as using trenchless technologies for the rehabilitation of the aqueduct and installation of the new pipes from Bay Park to Sunrise Highway and Sunrise Highway to Cedar Creek.”

Solving the Bay Park problem

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said that the Bay Park plant discharges 50 million gallons of sewage per day into the Western Bays. She added that the plant is now implementing new denitrification technologies that will reduce the nitrogen by 60 percent, and that she was “thrilled and relieved” that the aqueduct is in good condition. She said even though the pipe is more than 100 years old, she expected good news.

“I’m not surprised because that’s when we used to build things that last,” Esposito said. “We know it’s a steel pipe. We know it’s only been used for transporting clean water, so it makes sense that it would be in high-quality condition.”

Esposito stressed that CCE, other environmental groups and county officials have sought a solution to the Bay Park issue for 15 years, and firmly believe that piping the effluent into the ocean is the most viable solution.

“We’re not moving the problem. We’re solving the problem,” she said. “That’s why we’re reducing the nitrogen by half, and the only other option is to keep putting it in the bay. Then scientists are telling us that even if we put it in the bay at that level, the bays will still die. This will be the cleanest effluent going into the ocean, and we believe the bays will recover in about two years.”

She also expressed confidence that there would be enough funding for the project through state and federal grants, and that some of the $830 million that the county received for Hurricane Sandy relief could also be used. Esposito’s organization, along with groups like Operation SPLASH based in Freeport, previously lobbied for funding to construct an ocean outfall pipe at Bay Park, but the groups were unable to secure the more than $550 million needed for the project.

Funding the next steps

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky said he was confident that state and federal funding would come through for the project. He emphasized the importance of bringing back the bays.

“We’re looking at, for the first time, the possibility of bringing the Western Bays back to life, and that’s very encouraging,” Kaminsky said. “… If you want to see the marsh come back to life, which for storm protection is important, to bring clamming back to the Western Bays, and to have the marine life and recreational life that we had, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel now.”

The $2.4 million study of the 9.5-mile pipeline began on March 15 in Freeport, west of the Meadowbrook Parkway exit ramp. Aecom USA Inc., the firm contracted by the county to perform the study, has documented the condition of the steel, rivets, joints, connections, valve chambers and manholes. The study also included the creation of a topographical survey of the manholes; a visual survey of the exterior and interior of the aqueduct; and reports of all visible damage and structural damage of the pipeline, complete with photo and video records. According to Kaminsky, a report of the study’s results is expected within the next few weeks and will help determine the next course of action.

Esposito said that CCE’s next meeting is scheduled for June 27 at Operation SPLASH headquarters in Freeport, and the group will discuss the next steps in the project.