Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, flanked by Long Island elected leaders in Oakdale Tuesday, announced that Suffolk County will receive $383 million in state funding for four sewer projects and a $97 million "advance" payment to expedite repairs at the Bay Park Sewage Plant in Nassau.
The announcement, pegged to the upcoming two-year anniversary of superstorm Sandy, comes a week before Cuomo's re-election bid against Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.
"At the end of the day, Long Island will be better because of what happened," Cuomo told a crowd of about 100 invited guests at the Oakdale campus of St. John's University.
Cuomo was joined by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst.
In a statement and video Tuesday, Astorino criticized the Cuomo administration for using $37 million in federal Sandy relief funds for state tourism commercials following the storm.
"There are homeless Hurricane Sandy victims today still wondering how Andrew Cuomo hijacked money intended for them," Astorino said.
Cuomo said he was unaware of Astorino's remarks and did not respond to a request for comment. His campaign spokesman Matt Wing said the federal government approved the funding to drive tourism dollars to storm-impacted counties.
At the Oakdale event, Throne-Holst announced the state and Suffolk County will provide $2 million to create a research and development institute at Stony Brook University focused on technology to remove nitrogen from aquifers and waterways.
Cuomo called nitrogen pollution "a national and international problem," and said the center would bring together "great minds to work on this issue."
Bellone said the $383 million would go to extend sewage lines in Suffolk, where septic systems proliferate. He said the sewer projects will "dramatically jump start our effort" to cut down on nitrogen pollution.
The money will be directed toward projects to alleviate pollution in the Forge, Patchogue, Connetquot and Carlls rivers.
Nassau will receive an "advance" of $97 million in state funding to repair the Bay Park plant, which was heavily damaged during Sandy, Cuomo said. The funding is part of $830 million in state and federal emergency funds allocated for the project.
"This project is a priority project," said Mangano, noting that the plant serves more than 500,000 people.
Cuomo and Mangano said they would press federal officials to approve funding for an ocean outfall pipe to allow Bay Park to release treated sewage into the Atlantic Ocean rather than Long Island's western bays.
"It is ludicrous to be dumping the treated water right there on the coast," said Cuomo, who put the project at $600 million to $700 million.