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Source: Long Island Herald

Bay Park plant gets a 'D'

Environmental group releases Sewage Report Card


Posted: November 8, 2011
Originally Published: November 2, 2011

The Bay Park Sewage Plant got a big, fat D from the nonprofit advocacy organization Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which released its first Long Island Sewage Report Card on Monday.

“Sewage in the suburbs is not exactly a bedtime story,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the CCE. “It’s a ghoulish story. Frankly, Long Island’s sewage woes are frightening — aging infrastructure, antiquated plants and zero dollars result in decreased water quality, shellfish closures, outbreaks of toxic algae and public health threats.”

The CCE analyzed 10 large sewage treatment plants across Long Island, reviewing effluent data from 2005 through 2010 and conducting interviews with the management of each facility. The plants were graded on permit violations, public notification procedures, storm water management, energy efficiency, public education and climate-change adaptation.

The Huntington Sewage Treatment Plant had the highest grade, an A+, while the Bay Park, Long Beach and Stony Brook plants did the worst, each receiving a D.

The report stated that owners and operators of sewage treatment plants do not have public notification systems when untreated or partially treated sewage is released. There are several such releases each year, and residents, unaware of the spills, have been seen fishing and crabbing in impacted waters.

However, on Oct. 18, Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano and legislators Denise Ford and Howard J. Kopel announced the creation of a new system designed to notify residents about reportable incidents at the county’s treatment plants. “Since taking office, we have invested tens of millions of dollars in reversing the damage created by decades of neglect at Nassau County’s sewer treatment plants,” said Mangano. The system will allow residents to sign up for public informational updates through the Nassau County website (www.nassaucountyny.gov/dpw). Residents will be notified within four hours of any incident that results in a wastewater spill in any waterways near the Bay Park, Cedar Creek or Glen Cove plants. Those registered will receive an email notification from the Nassau County Department of Public Works when there is an incident that is required to be reported to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

“As our L.I. Sewage Report Card points out, our sewage infrastructure is aging and in need of upgrades,” Esposito said. “The Western Bays, a series of embayments in southern Nassau County, has three [sewage plants] that discharge over 60 million gallons of treated effluent per day into this system. This results in shellfish bed closures, decreased water quality, overgrowth of seaweed, reduced fish stocks, and even a brown foam covering beaches, as reported by community residents. As a result of community outrage, Nassau has been replacing failing parts and providing greater oversight and maintenance.”

The report also analyzed the plants’ permit violations over the past five years. Bay Park had 119 violations, second only to Cedar Creek, which had 128. Most were due to reports that were consistently submitted late, and the rest were water-quality violations. Each Nassau County plant treats 58 million gallons of sewage per day.

“While some plants have taken steps to upgrade and modernize, others are falling behind,” said Tara Bono, the CCE’s Long Island program coordinator. “Huntington is a leader, with upgraded technology, energy efficiency measures, climate-change adaptation and public education.” “Residents have a right to know if sewage is contaminating local water bodies,” said Maureen Dolan Murphy, the organization’s executive programs manager. “Members of the public can be seen year-round boating and fishing throughout our lakes, bays and estuaries. Notification is a common-sense step that allows for the public to make choices to protect themselves and their families. We urge [the state] to implement statewide legislation that gives the public the power to protect themselves.”

“Reports like this continue to underscore the need for Nassau to privatize its sewer treatment facilities,” said Mangano,”and doing so will result in turning Bay Park from a ‘D’ to a perennial ‘A’ facility in years to come.”