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Environmental group sets policy priorities

A prominent environmental advocacy group is joining the chorus of voices calling on lawmakers to consider new ways of financing upgrades to Long Island’s sewer systems.

The New York League of Conservation Voters held a news conference in Long Beach Tuesday, urging lawmakers to commission an analysis of the costs of County Executive Edward Mangano’s plan to privatize Nassau’s sewage treatment system. The group also recommended that Suffolk County create its own sewer district as a way to create economies of scale for needed upgrades.

“We’re laying out what our priorities are,” president Marcia Bystryn said. “When we make decisions about investments in the 2013 elections, that’s what we’re going to be paying attention to.”

Bystryn and Michael Posillico, the organization’s Long Island chapter chairman, also called on state and federal officials to increase funding for sewage treatment.

Nassau and Suffolk counties each face their own wastewater-related challenges, Posillico said.

In Nassau, he said, upgrades are needed at the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, which handles tens of millions of gallons of wastewater per day. Currently, the plant discharges into the waters off Long Beach’s north shore, which don’t get much circulation.

“This is a major outfall; this is not a minor outfall,” Posillico said. “It needs to move.”

In Suffolk, the league says it wants a sewer district consolidation to facilitate large-scale planning of infrastructure upgrades to reduce reliance on leaky septic tanks and cesspools.

Posillico acknowledged that wastewater treatment isn’t a “sexy topic.”

But, he added, “The process of developing the goals and the strategies are simple, [and] clear.”


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