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Activists praise Huntington Town sewage upgrades

Huntington Town Hall in an undated photo.

Huntington Town Hall in an undated photo. Credit: Alexi Knock

Huntington Town officials and environmental activists praised recent upgrades to the town’s wastewater treatment plant, saying the improvements have reduced nitrogen entering and exiting the plant, cut energy costs and saved the town $68,000 in the first year.

The method: bacteria that starts to clean sewage before it reaches the plant.

“We are always looking for new technologies that will keep the wastewater treatment plant state-of-the-art because they save taxpayers money and help preserve the environment,” Supervisor Frank Petrone said in a statement Wednesday.

Last year, after a competitive bid, the town hired In-Pipe Technology of Wood Dale, Ill., to install what it calls its bio-augmentation program — which introduces proprietary bacteria into the sewer pipes at several locations to treat liquid waste before it reaches the plant. This means the plant doesn’t have to work as hard to treat waste, saving energy, the town said.

“While other municipalities are allowing their sewage infrastructure to degrade, Huntington is implementing critical upgrades,” Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said at a news conference Wednesday. “Less nitrogen in the Long Island Sound is the answer to many of the Long Island Sound’s problems.”

High nitrogen levels have been linked to red tide, a harmful algae bloom that has caused numerous shellfish closures in Northport Bay, Huntington Bay and surrounding waters since its discovery in 2006.

The installation of the In-Pipe technology is the latest of many improvements at the plant in the last five years.

The system costs $12,000 each month to operate and maintain, but the savings outweighed the cost, officials said. In its first year, the system reduced the amount of nitrogen getting to the sewage plant by 67 percent — from 203 to 67 pounds per day, according to an In-Pipe document. The amount of sludge produced dropped 12 percent and energy usage fell by 26 percent.

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