Cuomo: Connect 4,500 Suffolk flood-prone homes to sewers

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wants thousands of Suffolk Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wants thousands of Suffolk County homes slated to be raised as part of a federal flood-control project to be connected to sewers, officials said Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. The governor is seen here at SUNY Old Westbury on June 11, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wants thousands of Suffolk County homes slated to be raised as part of a federal flood-control project to also be connected to sewers, officials said Saturday.

The state has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider spending $150 million to $200 million on the hookups, officials said.

The Army Corps said this week the state's request is being "discussed."

Cuomo disclosed the new request while announcing that $68 million in state funding has been authorized for a Fire Island dune-building project that will allow Suffolk to move ahead with acquiring homes and easements.

The Army Corps, which will foot the bill for the entire $207 million Fire Island project, is expected to start dredging about 7 million cubic yards of sand in September.

The dune is part of a multi-year effort to shield Long Island's south shore from hurricanes and nor'easters by creating wetland buffers and raising 4,500 flood-prone homes.

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Justin Meyers, spokesman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, said the proposed hookups would help reduce the nitrogen and other pollution that washes into the Great South Bay during storms.

The raised homes could connect to the Southwest Sewer District or new wastewater systems proposed for Mastic, Shirley and other communities, he said.

The sewer connections would balloon the total cost for the Fire Island to Montauk Point (FIMP) project to roughly $900 million, entirely funded by the congressional Sandy relief bill.

"Some of New York's hardest-hit communities during Sandy were in low-lying areas, and bolstering our first defenses against storm surge is essential," Cuomo said in a statement.

Contracts between the state, Suffolk and the Army Corps, allowing the Fire Island project to move forward, were recently signed, officials said.

Work on the 15-foot-high dune will start at Smith Point County Park, followed by Robert Moses State Park and the Fire Island Lighthouse area, officials said. The project is slated for completion in 2016.

Defending the 17 communities with new dunes requires Suffolk to obtain easements to build and protect them, and secure buyouts for 41 oceanfront properties that stand in its way, mainly in Davis Park and Ocean Bay Park.

The Fire Island plan also has a new element: giving endangered piping plovers a new nesting ground near Great Gunn Beach and improving three overwash areas for them in Smith Point.

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Referring to all the plans, Joe Martens, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said: "This is a significant, much-needed project that will help protect the south shore of Long Island from future storms and sea level rise in an environmentally sensitive manner."

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