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Babylon's new sewer line ready to be hooked up to Southwest Sewer District

An electronic sign on Straight Path in Wyandanch

An electronic sign on Straight Path in Wyandanch on Thursday, May, 9, 2014 warns that repaving work on the busy thoroughfare will begin on May 14. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

The Town of Babylon has finished all of Suffolk County's requirements for a new sewer line in Wyandanch and the system is ready to go online.

With a cost of just over $15 million, the town is using $13 million in federal low-interest financing for the project. The town has made nearly $700,000 in repayments so far, officials said.

The sewer line in Wyandanch is considered the first significant extension of the Southwest Sewer District since that system was built in the 1970s.

Still, about 75 percent of Suffolk is not served by sewers. That fact, along with growing fears of nitrogen pollution in bays and creeks, recently led the county to seek $750 million in superstorm Sandy-related aid to extend sewers to 12,000 homes on the South Shore.

Two months ago, a county inspection resulted in further fine-tuning of the Wyandanch sewer line, said Richard Groh, Babylon Town's chief environmental analyst. That work is complete and the only step left is a final inspection and a "blessing of Suffolk County," Groh said. He said he expects that to happen in the coming days.

"This is a pretty significant project," Groh said. "In addition to the economic benefits, it's going to have environmental benefits for our groundwater resources."

The sewer line is more than a decade in the making and is considered the backbone of an ambitious redevelopment project, Wyandanch Rising, a $500 million public-private effort to revitalize the hamlet through the construction of apartment buildings and retail space, a public plaza and new train station.

The town began construction on the sewer line in 2011. Nearly three miles long, the line connects to existing sewer infrastructure at 12th Avenue and 17th Street in West Babylon where the line runs west along 17th Street before turning north onto Straight Path. From there it runs as a gravity line to Booker Avenue, where it becomes a pressurized line to a pump station at Irving Avenue. From there it proceeds into the central business district where there are gravity lines that allow the businesses to hook into the system, Groh said. The sewer line ends just south of Nicolls Road.

The line branches out to some areas where a "very small handful" of homes will be able to connect, Groh said, "but this project is a revitalization project of the downtown, that's the focus of it."

So far, a half-dozen businesses have indicated they want to hook up to the sewers, Groh said. In 2010, the county approved a five-year waiver for all hookup fees in the downtown corridor, saving businesses millions of dollars.

Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, said sewers are essential to communities looking to revitalize because "without them, there's very little you can build that will meet environmental and health standards and you'll be limited in your vision of what's possible."

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