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Long Island gets $44 million to fund drinking-water, sewage project upgrades

Four Long Island drinking-water and wastewater upgrades won financing Thursday that along with similar projects in New York City will also curb nitrogen runoff, officials and scientists said.

"Definitely more needs to be done, but we're appreciative of anytime we can secure federal and state dollars for water-quality infrastructure in the region," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.

Long Island's share of this round of no-interest loans and grants from the $407 million Storm Mitigation Loan Program, created mainly with federal dollars after superstorm Sandy, totals about $44 million.

New York City will receive $430 million. But keeping the city's sewage from spilling out also aids Long Island, as tides spread the pollutants and all too often create noxious algae blooms.

"Much of the annual hypoxia, or low oxygen, that occurs in Long Island Sound occurs because of the tidal delivery of excessive nitrogen from sewage treatment plants along the East River to western Long Island Sound," said Christopher J. Gobler, a Stony Brook University professor.

The Suffolk County Water Authority received Long Island's biggest allotment -- $22.5 million -- to fund storm-resiliency measures, including 52 emergency generators and stronger water mains in Cherry Grove on Fire Island and in the villages of Sag Harbor and Huntington.

Also on Fire Island, the Village of Ocean Beach will receive nearly $3 million to elevate wastewater pumps and equipment, install an emergency generator and make other upgrades.

In Nassau, the Water Authority of Great Neck North will use its $15 million package to, for example, raise well heads above flood levels and buy standby generators.

Similarly, the Town of North Hempstead will gain $3 million to help stormproof the Port Washington Water Pollution Control District.

The New York City projects for 25 plants include curbing sewage overflow, and reducing offensive smells around the Jamaica Bay Water Pollution Control Plant.

Amanda Ludlow, a principal with Islandia-based Roux Associates, an environmental remediation firm, noted that even a minor rainfall in New York City can overload its wastewater systems.

"A lot of the New York City projects are going to be going toward improvements so that the next big storm we have -- we will have better engineered controls so that we don't have massive releases of our sewers into our ecosystems."

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