Suffolk County will connect about 1,900 South Shore homes to the Forge River Watershed Sewer Project in Mastic and Shirley with the groundbreaking Thursday of a $224 million wastewater treatment plant.
The state and county announced the $409 million Suffolk County Coastal Resiliency Initiative last fall. The project includes three different sewer lines following Superstorm Sandy to connect nearly 6,000 homes in Babylon and Mastic, by replacing septic tanks and cesspools and eliminating nitrogen polluting the bays and marshlands. The treatment plant in Mastic is expected to be completed in 2025.
The Forge River Watershed district runs from William Floyd Parkway to Forge River south of Sunrise Highway. It joins the Carlls River Project in Babylon and connected about 1,500 homes in the Suffolk County Sewer District No. 3 that are being connected at no cost to homeowners,
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the project was at least a decade in the making to add water treatment and sewers across the entire peninsula, using federal funding from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) joined with state funding secured by Gov. Kathy Hochul and former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
"This is just the beginning," Bellone said. "This infrastructure is necessary to protect our communities, expand the economy and protect water quality. We cannot have a peninsula if we’re not protecting water quality and reversing decades of pollution."
Hochul has allocated $315 million statewide for local water quality and environmental projects, said Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray. She said the sewer improvements will restore natural resources and marshlands to reduce storm surge and protect communities from coastal flooding.
"Water is life on Long Island and this project wouldn’t happen if not for the idea to link storms to what we do to our wastewater," said Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos.
Zeldin said he recalls the flooded homes after Superstorm Sandy and community members advocating to project Forge River. He credited Cuomo for securing sewer funding and former State Sen. Ken LaValle raising the issue of water pollution in Forge River.
"This was a storm that hit us so hard, there came great opportunity to rebuild stronger than ever before," Zeldin said. "This is the fruit of hard work from many people in the community who saw an important need for this to get done."
Schumer said he pushed for more than $300 million in funding to be approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the White House Budget Office earlier this year.
"Suffolk County’s lack of modern wastewater infrastructure leads to vast nitrogen pollution in our waterways, degrades our coastal defenses, threatens public health, and stifles sustainable, economic growth," Schumer said.