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Northport believes it has met deadline to lower nitrogen discharges from its sewage plant

Northport and state officials said they were confident Thursday that the village had met a deadline to lower the amount of nitrogen its sewage treatment plant discharges into the harbor.

The village started work on upgrading the nearly 40-year-old plant in June 2013 to lower nitrogen emissions from 18.6 pounds per day to 10 pounds per day by Friday -- a mandate being overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Protection.

"I feel really good," said Damon McMullen, village trustee and the commissioner of waste water treatment. "I feel it has been a long and hard road."

McMullen said the plant's latest numbers show that it's emitting 9.04 pounds per day, and he expects that number to drop. The DEC echoed this in a statement, saying sampling results from last month show the village is meeting the requirement.

The project's major component was the addition of denitrification filters, which the DEC said in a statement are complete and removing nitrogen.

"A final inspection of the Northport facility will be conducted sometime in August to ascertain completion status of the upgrade as well as review the preliminary sampling results," said the DEC.

Environmental experts and local officials say the upgrade of the filters could mitigate red tide, a harmful algae bloom that has caused numerous shellfish closures in Northport Bay, Huntington Bay and surrounding waters since it was discovered in 2006.

In Nassau and Suffolk counties, there are 10 other plants that also have nitrogen reduction requirement deadlines Friday, the DEC said. The agency said all are in compliance.

Along with the plant improvement, other projects in Northport to be done include replacing decades-old shoreline sewer lines and relining water mains along other village roads. The total cost for all is about $9.3 million, officials said.

The village has received about $6.4 million in a combination of state and county grants. The rest is expected to be paid through a New York State Environmental Facilities Corp. bond; and if more is needed, a long-term county loan, officials said.

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