Projects Will Create Hundreds of Jobs, Connect 5755 Homes To Sewers
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced that the Suffolk County Legislature is scheduled to approve a series of resolutions on Tuesday to advance the connection of 5,700 homes to sewers using more than $390 million in federal and state grant funding as part of a long-awaited project that is part of the State’s coastal resiliency plan in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
“Approval by the Legislature of resolutions accepting and appropriating grant funds for the Carlls River and Forge River sewer projects is historic, and is the culmination of years of hard work by the County’s water quality team, supported by environmental groups, organized labor, and the building trades,” said County Executive Bellone. “Tuesday will be a special day for the nearly 6,000 homeowners who have been waiting for years, and will now have their homes connected to sewers with all construction costs funded by grants.”
US Senator and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said: “Suffolk County’s lack of modern sewer infrastructure leads to massive nitrogen pollution of our waterways and bays that threatens public health and sustainable growth. That is why I fought so hard before FEMA and OMB, and am so proud to deliver, this massive $232 million federal investment for the game-changing Suffolk County Coastal Resiliency Initiative. These federal funds – along with the $46 million in American Rescue Plan funding I secured for Suffolk County, which County Executive Bellone is wisely allocating for sewer infrastructure – are being put to good use by modernizing Suffolk’s sewer system.”
The Suffolk County Coastal Resiliency Initiative (SCCRI) sewer projects include an extension of County Sewer District No. 3 in Babylon, and the establishment of a new Forge River Sewer District in Mastic, both of which were overwhelmingly approved by voters in those project areas in 2019. The SCCRI project also includes the connection of 1,497 homes in Babylon and Islip that were already located in Sewer District No. 3 but had never been connected, to the sewer system.
Federal funding for the projects is being provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), and Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, through the New York State Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR). FEMA approved construction funding for the projects on Friday.
Progress on the projects was slowed in early 2020 when stay-at-home orders enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancelation of community meetings and construction bids opened during the height of the pandemic were higher than anticipated. In April, County Executive Bellone announced that the County would invest $100 million in new funding for water quality infrastructure to allow the projects to move forward.
“The County is especially grateful to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for his strong advocacy and steadfast support, which has been critical in bringing these shovel-ready projects to the point of construction,” said County Executive Bellone. “Without Senator Schumer’s leadership, we would never have been able to bring these historic projects to fruition.”
Rob Calarco, Presiding Office of the Suffolk County Legislature, said: “Nitrogen pollution from outdated and inefficient cesspools and septic systems threatens our waters and way of life, putting our environment and public health at risk. Infrastructure projects like these are essential to the future of Suffolk County, and I am grateful to County Executive Bellone for his partnership and commitment to protecting our waters.”
Kevin McCaffrey, Minority Leader of the Suffolk County Legislature, said: “The approval of these contracts is an important first step in protecting our groundwater and surface waters. Regardless of where you live in this County, expanding our sewer system will benefit our environment for generations to come.”
Suffolk County Legislator Jason Richberg, said: “I am proud to stand alongside County Executive Bellone and my colleagues in supporting this historic investment in our sewers. This has been a long time coming- sewers have been a hot topic in the 15th district for many years. I’m happy to be able to tell the residents that have gone without sewer access for decades that the wait is almost over. This is an important investment in our future that will help keep our county’s water quality and overall environment healthy and thriving for the next generation of Suffolk County residents.”
Suffolk County Legislator Tom Donnelly said: “The Suffolk County Coastal Resiliency Initiative is a critically important infrastructure project that will protect and preserve the health and well-being of our environment and residents living in the most sensitive priority areas. I thank everyone in the project areas, as well as my legislative colleagues and County Executive Steve Bellone, for the collaborative efforts that have enabled us to keep to our commitment to stay on track and continue to move forward.”
Suffolk County Legislator Jim Mazzarella said: “This is a historic moment for the Mastic/Shirley Peninsula and the homeowners within the boundaries of the sewer district who will be eligible to connect their homes with no out-of-pocket expenses. This project will greatly reduce the nitrogen load in the Forge River, and will also create jobs and revitalize the business corridor along Montauk Highway. These initial phases are the first step in my commitment to expand sewers into Mastic Beach, and one day the entire peninsula. It is important to note that we live on an Island, and sewer projects such as these don’t only benefit those who live within the district. Protecting our bodies of water and our sole-source aquifer is of the upmost importance for all Long Islanders.”
John R. Durso, President of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO said: “Environmental organizations, the business community, our labor movement and elected leaders all came together over a period of years to make the Suffolk County Coastal Resiliency Initiative a reality. It has been nothing short of historic. Having cleared the final procedural hurdle these construction projects are set to generate economic growth, enhance recreational and tourism opportunities, support local redevelopment efforts, and create jobs through the projects themselves. This is a good day for Long Island.”
Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment said: “These sewer expansion projects are an exciting and significant step in the battle to restore our water quality. This is real progress! This type of progress happens because of meaningful partnerships working together including labor organizations, environmentalists and elected leaders. Kudos to County Executive Bellone for his leadership and determination to advance water quality protection.”
John Cameron, Chairman of the Long Island Regional Planning Council, said: “The Long Island Regional Planning Council (LIRPC) strongly supports the approval of the series of resolutions that will move forward the construction contracts for the Carlls River Watershed Sewer Project and the Forge River Watershed Sewer Project. The most effective solution for nitrogen pollution in high density communities that have individual disposal systems is the installation and collection of sewage collection and treatment systems. The Suffolk County leadership team is to be commended for developing technically sound, large scale projects to extend sewers and address nitrogen and pathogen pollution.”
Kyle Strober, Executive Director of the Association for a Better Long Island, said: "This milestone reflects a growing appreciation that the ability for hundreds of thousands of people to live beside one of the most spectacular but fragile ecosystems in the world requires a continuing investment in the infrastructure that will protect it. The Bellone administration and a dedicated coalition of allies should be congratulated for their advocacy in protecting this precious resource and our shared environmental future."
Kevin McDonald, Long Island Policy Director for The Nature Conservancy, said: “The Nature Conservancy commends County Executive Bellone and the Suffolk County Legislature for their leadership and commitment to bringing clean water and healthy coasts back to Long Island. We urge our local leaders to continue this critical work funding sewer expansion projects that prevent further pollution from reaching our bays and harbors, while creating good, local jobs and protecting Long Island’s way of life for our children and grandchildren.”
Mitchell Pally, Chief Executive Officer of the Long Island Builders Institute, said: “The Long Island builders institute wishes to congratulate all of our elected officials who have worked so hard over so many years to encourage and make happen the first major expansion of sewer infrastructure in over fifty years. This major achievement is both a significant benefit for our environment and economic development and one which will change the nature of our county in a positive manner.”
Marc Herbst, Executive Director, Long Island Contractors Association, said: “Thank you County Executive Steve Bellone and all those whose leadership contributed to getting these critical water and sewage projects over the finish line. As extreme weather continues to batter our water infrastructure, there is no more important work we could all be doing to ensure clean water and proper drainage systems on Long Island. Let’s get those shovels ready.”