The Town of Babylon will soon begin work on a series of projects designed to mitigate flooding and improve the condition of the Carlls River.
The watershed projects are years in the making and are funded with some of the $30 million in federal dollars Babylon received for parts of the town after 2012’s Superstorm Sandy. The money comes through the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery. In 2017 the town hired LiRo Group of Syosset to oversee all the projects and in 2018 hired NV5 of Melville for the architectural, engineering and design aspects of the watershed projects, but the physical work is just now starting.
"There were a lot of requirements to get to the point where we can now actually construct the projects," said Rich Groh, the town's chief environmental analyst.
The town last month hired Pioneer Landscaping & Asphalt Paving Inc. in Kings Park to do the construction on the first project for nearly $1.78 million. The work entails creating a stormwater treatment wetland on 2.29 acres near Sunrise Highway in West Babylon that will treat runoff from the highway.
"We’re going to be able to capture a portion of the runoff that right now goes directly into the river," Groh said. The runoff will be treated "naturally with wetland plants and trees" such as sedges and ferns, he said.
Water quality improvement is important because that portion of the Carlls River is "prime trout habitat" and trout are particularly sensitive to pollutants, he said. It will be the town’s third stormwater treatment wetland, Groh said. The others are at Ketcham's Creek and Geiger Park.
The town also last month hired Grace Industries LLC of Melville, for $1.97 million to do construction on another watershed project, which involves replacing a culvert on Locust Avenue in Babylon Village with a larger one to reduce flooding.
The town has plans for three more areas: at Elda Lake in North Babylon it will replace rotted steel pipe culverts; at Southard’s Pond in Babylon Village it will install a control gate and create a fish passageway; and at Argyle Lake in Babylon Village it will install a larger control gate and overflow culvert. The five projects are expected to cost about $7 million.
"The Carlls River carries a lot of water during a storm, both precipitation and runoff," Groh said. "These projects will try to get some resiliency in the watershed system."