Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri's goal of connecting dozens of homes to a sewer main in hopes of decreasing pollutants in the Great South Bay is underway.
The $2.8 million project centers around the construction of a sewer line connecting 55 residential properties on River Avenue south of Weeks Street, along with homes on Sunset Lane, Price Street and Mapes Avenue in South Patchogue.
"Every once in a while you make a promise and you hope . . . to fill that promise," Pontieri said at Tuesday's groundbreaking ceremony on Sunset Lane attended by several village and county officials. "It took 11 years to get here, but we're here."
The project will connect the homes to twin 3-inch-diameter sewer system pipes previously installed that run the length of River Avenue, county officials said.
"This is about resiliency and making this place a better place to live," Suffolk Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) said at the ceremony.
Pontieri said the connection will help lower pollution levels in the Great South Bay and improve the quality of life for residents.
To connect to the sewer system, homeowners must pay for the costs of abandoning their septic systems. They must also pay annual sewer district fees estimated at about $600, village officials said. The average homeowner is spending between $1,500 to $2,000 annually to pump out their septic tanks.
The project also includes removing asphalt and installing a drainage system to help prevent street flooding.
"It's coming at the right time," said Sunset Lane homeowner Ernest Swinson, 58. He said his cesspools often clog during heavy rain and snow.
In February, Pontieri called the project the most expensive initiative the village would undertake in 2015.
On Tuesday, he said the village is using a $1 million grant from the New York State Dormitory Authority to help fund the project, along with $577,000 from the Suffolk County Assessment Stabilization Fund. Patchogue plans to bond about $400,000 for the project and the remainder will come from surplus.
Suffolk's investment coincides with County Executive Steve Bellone's Reclaim Our Water initiative, which addresses nitrogen pollution, county officials said.
"At the end of the day, it's about protecting water quality," Bellone said at the groundbreaking. "Water quality is so critical to our future."