Long Island will get at least $400 million in federal storm-recovery money for wastewater projects aimed at reducing harmful nitrogen levels in the area's waterways, federal officials said on Wednesday.
Nassau County will receive $150 million and Suffolk County will receive at least $250 million in Community Development Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the officials said.
In Nassau, the money will be used for a nitrogen-removal system for the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant. Nitrogen in the effluent, which discharges into Reynolds Channel, weakens coastal marshes, which are critical in protecting coastal communities from wave action and flooding during severe storms.
Suffolk County's portion will be used for sewer projects.
Federal officials said the decision was made this week to grant the money to the two counties from the third installment of a total of about $16 billion in storm-recovery money funneled through HUD.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who lobbied for the funds for Long Island, said he was gratified by the grants.
"Putting nitrogen in Reynolds Channel is like pouring poison in the water," Schumer said Wednesday. The money "will allow them to take out nitrogen and the Great South Bay will flourish as it hasn't in decades."
The county also is seeking an ocean outfall pipe that will reroute effluent from the county-owned East Rockaway plant into the Atlantic Ocean. Earlier this month, state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens requested $690 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds for that project.
Meanwhile, Schumer said, "Suffolk County desperately needs money for sewers . . . I've told HUD that one of my top criteria is treating Suffolk and their sewage needs fairly, and we're on the road to accomplishing that."
However, Schumer said Suffolk will decide how it wants to use the money.