Bellone Introduces Bills to Fund Design Process for Advanced Sewers & Creation of New Sewer District
(Suffolk County, NY) – Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, New York State Senator Tom Croci, Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter, New York State Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino, Suffolk County Legislators William Lindsay III and Tom Cilmi, regional business leaders and environmental advocates jointly announced plans to sewer low lying areas along the Great South Bay. In addition, officials announced plans to create a sewer district to support economic growth surrounding Long Island MacArthur Airport.
The initiatives, which have been long priorities for the town, were added by the County Executive earlier this year to the county’s Capital Program. County Executive Bellone recently introduced two resolutions to provide funding to advance the design process for the two projects. The plans are part of Suffolk County’s ongoing Reclaim Our Water Initiative, which calls to eliminate the region’s nitrogen pollution crisis that has affected drinking and surface water for decades.
“These projects will help reverse decades of nitrogen pollution in the Great South Bay, provide greater flexibility for existing businesses in Oakdale and Sayville, and provide a significant new incentive for investments in development and redevelopment in the area around MacArthur Airport” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “As both of our presidential candidates are highlighting and prioritizing the need to invest in infrastructure projects, Suffolk County wants to be in the position to capitalize on those investments. As we pull together as a region to support the Town of Islip’s aggressive efforts to bring new business activity to an airport that is a regional asset, the timing could not be better.”
Sewering of the low lying areas along Islip’s south shore was originally planned in the late 1970s, but fell victim to an aversion to sewer projects that developed in the wake of the Southwest Sewer District in the 1980s. As a result, the area continues to be served by cesspools and septic systems which are the primary source of nitrogen pollution of groundwater and surface water, including Great South Bay, and Oakdale’s Grand Canal. Business and community leaders have been pressing for action on the issue for several years, and the Town of Islip has completed a Feasibility Study that will be used to advance the design of the project.
The project would follow an extension of the Southwest Sewer District to Great River as part of the Suffolk County Coastal Resiliency Initiative, a group of four projects being funded by a $388 million package of state and federal funding assistance through the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery.
The new MacArthur Industrial District will serve the Town of Islip’s MacArthur Airport and the surrounding commercial and industrial area, providing sewer capacity long awaited by the business community to promote new economic development and incentive for new business investment in the area.
"For our bay, our drinking water and for the jobs and economic development that will result, I am extremely pleased that the preliminary studies for the sewers on our south shore will soon begin," said New York State Senator Tom Croci. "I compliment my colleagues in government for continuing to remain focused on this important issue."
“Islip homeowners and businesses have been looking forward to this project for many years,” said Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter. “We want to thank County Executive Bellone for making this project a priority, and for recognizing the economic and environmental necessity of expanding sewer capacity in our area.”
“My office has been fighting to bring sewers to Oakdale, Sayville, and beyond, since the first day I was sworn into the State Assembly. We cannot allow the quality of our water to continue its deterioration,” said New York Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino. “Sewers will address the growing nitrogen pollution problem, while also allowing for economic growth in the area. Sewers are a necessity, not a luxury. I’m looking forward to working with County Executive Bellone on this project and will do everything in my power to ensure its success.”
“Sewering the South Shore communities of Oakdale, West Sayville, and Sayville are an absolute necessity not only for the benefit of our residents but for the long term economic and environmental sustainability of our region,” said Suffolk County Legislator William Lindsay III. “For years our residents have heard about the possibility of sewers within their neighborhoods - now we have the chance to expedite this process and I stand 100 percent behind this legislation. We must take the appropriate steps to sewer our South Shore communities now to improve our water quality, increase our ability to further generate economic growth, and provide our residents with the proper resources to continue to live and work here on Long Island for generations to come.”
“We are in a time of extraordinary fiscal scarcity with many demands being placed on limited financial resources but today’s announcement should make our priorities clear. Expanding our sewer footprint on the south shore, at Long Island MacArthur Airport and in surrounding areas provides an opportunity to improve our environment and our economy, therefore creating jobs and enhancing the water resources which are vitally important to our quality of life. That’s an investment which will pay dividends,” said Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi.
“The science tells us that our bays can and will be restored when we significantly reduce nitrogen pollution from sewage discharging into the water body. Sewering these communities will be a substantial aid in battling Brown Tide which has plagued the Great South Bay for years, it will help restore healthy sea grass beds and strengthen wetlands. This is encouraging news to all of us who live on the south shore and love the Great South Bay,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
“We know how important this legislation is to moving the sewer expansion project forward and especially to enhancing our regional asset, MacArthur Airport. We are excited to see the County Executive, our elected officials, and business and community leaders working together, tirelessly, to make this a reality. This legislation will be highly beneficial to our region in driving business growth in Suffolk County,” added Kevin Law, President & Chief Executive Officer, Long Island Association, Inc.
“This is a great initiative that will benefit Suffolk County residents, while also creating an opportunity for economic growth,” said Desmond Ryan, Executive Director of ABLI. “We would like to thank the County Executive for making the project a priority in addressing the critical issue of economic development in our region.”
“The Long Island Builders Institute strongly supports this initiative to expand the sewer capacity within a variety of sections of the Town of Islip,” said Mitchell H. Pally, Chief Executive Officer of LIBI. “Such an initiative will strongly assist in the protection of our water quality in these areas while at the same time opening up these very important areas for new types of economic development, which are not allowed under the current regulations. In addition, the new sewer line will assist with the continued development of Long Island MacArthur Airport, which is one of the most important regional assets in Suffolk County.”
“Both the commercial and environmental future of our community has been challenged without a solution to our sewer issue,” said Robert F. Blair from the Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce. “We need an environmentally sound sewer system to support our businesses and revitalize the Great South Bay fishing industry. We support County Executive Bellone in this critical first step and look forward to working with him in the future on building a sustainable program.”
"Sewering, properly deployed, can revitalize The Great South Bay. Thousands of acres could be opened up for oyster farming, and a heritage can be restored. This would not be a cost, but an investment in The South Shore’s future,” said Marshall Brown, President of Save the Great South Bay.
“One of the most important needs that we have in Oakdale is sewers not only to protect our waters, but from an economic development point of view as well. While we have long planned on developing a downtown Oakdale, this would be impossible without sewers. We applaud the County Executive's commitment to this important initiative,” said Ron Beattie, President of the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce.
By moving with the design of these projects, the County and Town would be in a strong position to press for federal and state funding for construction, or to take advantage of a new recurring source of dedicated funding for wastewater infrastructure when it is created.
Unlike neighboring municipalities in the tristate area, the majority of Suffolk County’s wastewater treatment relies on more than 360,000 individual cesspools and septic systems. Suffolk County has more unsewered homes and businesses than the entire state of New Jersey.
“These projects are of critical importance to the future of our environment and our economy, so much so that it’s not a question of whether they will get built – they have to be completed,” added Bellone. “Since history shows clearly that projects which are considered ‘shovel ready’ are much more likely to be funded when resources become available, completing the design of the Oakdale to Sayville project and MacArthur Industrial District are a critically important first step towards seeing these projects completed.”
Initial project design will include the primary mains that would connect south Islip and the MacArthur Industrial District to the County’s Bergen Point wastewater treatment plant. More detailed design to complete connections to individual properties would be undertaken after detailed cost information becomes available.