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Curran seeks Nassau Legislature emergency vote on bond for Long Beach sewage plan

The county and city plan includes cleaning up

The county and city plan includes cleaning up Reynolds Channel. Credit: ALLislandAerial.com / Kevin P. Coughlin

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran will seek an emergency vote Monday by the county legislature on a $66 million bond to reroute Long Beach sewage to the county’s treatment facility and stop the flow of sewage into Reynolds Channel.

The county legislature’s Rules Committee will consider an intermunicipal agreement with the City of Long Beach to consolidate sewage treatment to the county’s Bay Park Water Pollution Control Plant.

City officials said the recent positive test of E. coli in city drinking water is unrelated to the sewer consolidation plan, which has been in the works for three years. Curran’s administration said the bond requires an emergency vote so the county and the city can meet deadlines to pursue grant funding from the state’s department of economic development.

The county has started preliminary designs, which could lead to the start of construction next year.

“By investing in and rerouting our wastewater treatment system, we will allow the local ecosystem a chance to regenerate, bringing back cleaner, healthier bays for wildlife, visitors, and residents, spurring economic activity, all while saving taxpayer dollars,” Curran said in a statement. “We have one simple obligation — to leave this place better than we found it. We will continue to work with our federal and state partners to invest now to preserve the quality, resiliency and natural beauty of Long Island for generations to come."

Curran’s proposal can only be approved if 13 members of the Republican-majority 19-member legislature vote to declare a capital budget emergency. The county executive’s administration is requesting an emergency vote for the city to meet specific state and federal grants in July for water quality initiatives.

Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said he will meet with the GOP caucus Monday and in the Rules Committee to review the $66 million bond.

“The legislature only received the contract and authorization one week ago and did not get a briefing until Thursday. The legislature must perform its due diligence before agreeing to a project that involves borrowing more than $60 million,” Nicolello said in a statement.

Long Beach city officials plan to vote on a companion agreement after the legislature’s vote, which would require the city to spend $18 million to convert its wastewater treatment plant into a pump station and transfer sewage to Bay Park through a pipe under Reynolds Channel. The city has already received $6 million in state grants and proposed bonding up to $6.3 million in 2017. 

Officials said repairing and updating the city’s wastewater plant would cost more than $175 million, but construction of the pump station and three-mile connection pipe would cost about $77 million. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

Long Beach would plan to transfer up to 5 million gallons of raw sewage per day to Bay Park, limiting the amount of treated effluent flowing into Reynolds Channel and reducing ammonia and nitrogen levels in the water.

The county also has a project with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to send treated sewage to the county’s Cedar Creek facility in Wantagh and pump the effluent 3 miles out to the ocean.  

Legis. Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) said the proposal has not been fully presented to the Republican majority and if an emergency vote is not approved, she will ask the legislature to bring it back for a vote at the next meeting July 15.

She said residents in Long Beach and Nassau County needed to be informed of the project.

“I’m hoping the administration can make a case for it to be passed through emergency. It is important for all of Nassau County,” Ford said. “I firmly believe if we don’t pass it, there will be wiggle room to vote at a later date. I would like to have it passed as soon as possible.”

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