It will cost at least $32 million to convert dozens of businesses on Plandome Road and hundreds of homes in Manhasset from private septic tanks to a public sewer system, according to a recent feasibility study.
The $200,000 study, conducted by Woodbury-based Cameron Engineering, came after Manhasset business owners petitioned the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District in 2017 to find out the cost to connect their properties to sewer lines managed by the district.
The long-awaited report was released last week and offered two options with price tags in the tens of millions of dollars.
A traditional gravity sewer system would cost $40 million, the study said. The cheaper alternative, the low-pressure sewer system, is easier to install, requires less construction time and costs $32 million.
The study didn’t say how the project would be paid for or who would bear the cost.
“The next step, as far as we're concerned, is we'll wait until the residents and the businesses process what's in the report, meet and discuss for funding and decide for themselves what's the best path forward for their community,” said Steve Reiter, a water pollution control district commissioner.
District officials said they have sent the study to local stakeholders, including a Manhasset civic association and the Manhasset Chamber of Commerce.
“The Town has received a copy of the study and is reviewing it; however we are not in a position to make a statement,” North Hempstead Town spokeswoman Rebecca Cheng wrote Thursday in an emailed statement.
Business owners have had to absorb the cost of pumping their septic tanks regularly. One businessman told Newsday last May that it cost about $65,000 to $70,000 a year to maintain the septic system at his restaurant.
The environment would benefit too, supporters of the sewer project said.
Sarah Deonarine, executive director of the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee, said getting rid of the septic tanks would mean a reduction of nitrogen flowing into a part of the bay that’s shallow and doesn’t flush with the tide well.
“From a water quality standpoint, [this is] what we want to see,” she said.
District officials said funding sources could include state grants and bonds issued by the Town of North Hempstead, but the community would have to want it first.
“We have a bus half full, and we've got some spaces,” said Christopher Murphy, the district's superintendent. “If you want to jump on, great,” but “we do not want to take anybody that doesn't want to come.”
The district's wastewater treatment plant, which was upgraded in 2014, can process 5.3 million gallons of wastewater per day, according to the study. It now services 2.7 million gallons daily, and the added wastewater would bring in about 181,000 extra gallons, which would account for only 3% of the total load it can handle.
But the capacity may not be there decades down the road as the district takes in connections from new developments, officials said.
The district works on a first-come-first-serve principle, Reiter said, and the plant’s capacity is “going to start to dwindle as time goes on.”
The pricey cost of conversion
- For the 80 businesses and building owners on Plandome Road: The cost to install the gravity sewer system is $16 million. The low-pressure alternative will cost $12 million.
- For the residential neighborhood of 408 homes: The gravity sewer system would cost $23 million, and the low-pressure system $20 million.
- If the district collaborates with the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District, which wants to install new water mains, sharing road work costs could save the project $5.1 million, including $4 million for the residential area and $1.1 million for the business corridor.