Letter: Sewers may be costly, but worth it

The Cromaglass sewage treatment plant at Sunrise Assisted

The Cromaglass sewage treatment plant at Sunrise Assisted Living in Dix Hills. Effluent from the facility flows to underground fiberglass tanks for processing and nitrogen removal; the treated wastewater is discharged to a nearby leaching field. Operators access the system through hatches. While some Cromaglass plants have repeatedly violated water quality standards, those serving four Sunrise facilities in Suffolk have excellent records. Monday, Oct. 17, 2011. (Credit: Newsday photo/ Jessica Rotkiewicz)

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Newsday's editorial calling for substantive steps to address the region's nitrogen pollution crisis mentions sewers as one remediation strategy, but one that is costly ["It's clear that local water is a concern. Now what?," Jan. 29].

Sewers are expensive, but any effective infrastructure with the ability to improve our society is going to require a substantial investment, especially if it would allow us to shut private septic tanks and cesspools that leach into our water resources.

Politically driven alternatives would create yet one more layer of costly government for the taxpayer -- for example, a regional Long Island Water Commission, which would require new salaries, pensions, patronage and administrative costs. Or we would have to live with draconian restrictions that would impact economic growth.

In the '70s, federal funds were available to localities for 85 percent of the cost of sewer- main lines and 50 percent of lateral lines. Long Island took advantage of the program and received $1.4 billion for its sewer systems: $800 million for Nassau County and $640 million for Suffolk County. A similar program would allow us to recharge our economy, our infrastructure and, most important, our water supply.

Marc Herbst, Hauppauge

Editor's note: The writer is the executive director of the Long Island Contractors' Association, a trade group.

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