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Long Beach needs $12 million more to start Bay Park sewage project

Long Beach officials were awarded $2.5 million last

Long Beach officials were awarded $2.5 million last month in state grants to convert the city's wastewater treatment plant into a pumping station. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Long Beach has received $6 million in grants to build a pipeline to send treated sewage to Bay Park in East Rockaway, but the city remains $12 million short of its initial goal.

City officials were awarded $2.5 million last month in grants from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council to convert the city’s wastewater treatment plant into a pumping station that can ultimately send sewage to Bay Park.

The city also received a $3.5 million water infrastructure grant last year, but Long Beach was turned down for a $7 million intermunicipal water infrastructure grant, Long Beach Public Works Director John Mirando said.

Ultimately, the state’s plan is to send treated sewage through a pipeline under Sunrise Highway to Cedar Creek in Wantagh and release it 3 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean, where it can be more greatly diluted. Wastewater is currently released into Reynolds Channel. The total project is expected to cost about $50 million.

Long Beach and Lido Beach contribute 4.2 million gallons of treated sewage daily into Reynolds Channel. The city is responsible for about 5 percent of nitrogen levels in the bay, but the city will not be able to meet future state environmental standards for nitrogen and ammonia.

To begin transferring sewage, Long Beach must first construct a 3.5-mile pipeline to connect to an existing pipeline down Austin Boulevard in Oceanside, which is expected to cost $18 million, Mirando said.

“It’s still only one part of this project,” Mirando said. “It’s a critical component, so we can then build the pump station and bypass our wastewater station.”

Long Beach officials plan to seek additional grants this year to make up the funding shortage. The city is also pursuing an intermunicipal agreement with Nassau County for duplicate work needed.

The total project, including building the 24-inch pipe to Oceanside, switching to Bay Park and pumping to Cedar Creek using an existing New York City aqueduct, could take about seven years, Mirando said.

“The goal is to get the nitrogen and ammonia out of Reynolds Channel and clean it up significantly,” Mirando said.

Officials with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation said Long Beach was selected as a “high priority project” to eliminate the discharge of treated sewage into the channel.

Converting the city’s treatment plant could also potentially bring sewers to Point Lookout.

The city’s 70-year-old wastewater treatment plant was damaged during superstorm Sandy and remains vulnerable to future storms and flooding on the bayfront, state environmental officials said. The pumping station will be designed to operate during severe storms.

Cleaning up Reynolds Channel will not only improve the environment for fishing, and maybe someday recreational use, but could also restore dry marshes as a critical storm barrier, Long Beach Corporation Counsel Rob Agostisi said.

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