Sag Harbor Village Trustee Aidan Corish said the village plans...

Sag Harbor Village Trustee Aidan Corish said the village plans to use the state money to expand its wastewater treatment plant that opened in the 1970s. Credit: John Roca

This story was reported by Brianne Ledda, Carl MacGowan, Joseph Ostapiuk, Tara Smith, Joe Werkmeister and Darwin Yanes. It was written by Werkmeister.

Long Island municipalities will receive more than $17 million in state money for water quality projects aimed at improving sewer systems, reducing nitrogen pollution and enhancing storm resiliency, according to state officials. 

The projects, spanning from Port Washington in Nassau County to Sag Harbor on the East End, are among 81 across the state slated to receive a total $146 million through the Water Quality Improvement Project grant program, the state recently announced.

The program, which is administered through the state Department of Environmental Conservation, reimburses municipalities for projects that mitigate flood risk, improve water quality and support habitat restoration. 

Sag Harbor Village and the Village of Ocean Beach on Fire Island will use the grant money on sewer improvements.


  • Several Long Island towns and villages are slated to receive reimbursement grants for water quality improvement projects.
  • Sag Harbor Village and the Village of Ocean Beach will receive just under $11 million total for sewer improvements.
  • The state Department of Conservation administers the grants, which total $146 million this year across the state.

Sag Harbor Village’s grant of just over $5.9 million will go toward an expansion of its wastewater treatment plant that opened in the 1970s. Trustee Aidan Corish said the village has raised $16 million toward the project.

The goal is to connect homes to the treatment plant, which primarily serves the commercial district, and reduce nitrogen runoff that pollutes water, Corish said. He said homeowners are "sort of stuck" without the ability to upgrade aging septic systems due to the small size of lots in the densely populated village.

Corish said the village aims to connect about 80 homes with a goal of adding an additional 200 in a second phase that depends on obtaining additional grants. 

“Clean water benefits everybody,” he said. “You can imagine if Sag Harbor waters turn foul, it underpins property values, the prosperity of the village and essentially the way of life here.”

Corish said the village could possibly break ground on the project in September, but several steps remain that could extend the timeline. The DEC grant is a reimbursement, so the village will need to bond the money first, he said.

The Village of Ocean Beach will receive $5 million to...

The Village of Ocean Beach will receive $5 million to renovate an aging sewer system that was installed in the early 20th century, Mayor James Mallott said. Credit: Lauren Chenault

The Village of Ocean Beach will receive $5 million to renovate an aging sewer system that was installed in the early 20th century, Mayor James Mallott said.

“It hasn't let us down yet," he said. "But it's just getting a little old in the tooth, so we need to start thinking about replacing it.”

Mallott said replacing the entire system will be a long and expensive project. 

"But $5 million would be the start of it, and we'll apply for more grants as we move forward," he said.

After Superstorm Sandy, the village spent more than $6 million in FEMA funds on the Ocean Beach sewer plant, Mallott said. Now, the village is focused on sewer lines and stormwater drainage.

According to the DEC, the grant will fund the replacement of sanitary sewers within the residential area of Ocean Beach over multiple phases.

Other municipalities and nonprofits will receive money as well.

The Port Washington Water Pollution Control District was awarded just over $5.8 million for improvements to the treatment plant in Nassau County. The plan calls for repairing 16,000 linear feet of underground pipes to reduce sanitary sewer overflows. The DEC says the project will improve water quality in Manhasset Bay.

In a statement, the Port Washington Water Pollution Control District said the grant will help alleviate the tax burden for residents of the district.

Southold Town will receive $250,000 to replace a pair of worn-out culverts as part of a restoration project in Broad Meadow, a marsh east of Narrow River Road in Orient.

John Sepenoski, a project coordinator who works in the town’s Geographic Information Systems department, said the culverts are nearly rusted shut and don’t allow for tidal flushing.

“It sounds like a garden hose draining Broad Meadow,” he said. The culverts will be replaced with tide gates that will improve flow and protect against flooding.

Officials also said the project will restore habitat in the marsh, which is overrun with invasive phragmites.

Brookhaven Town will receive $360,000 to buy 4 acres in Middle Island for open space preservation. The parcel on Middle Island Boulevard runs alongside the town-owned Twin Ponds Nature Preserve, town spokesman Jack Krieger said. The state news release said preserving the land, which is within the 105,000-acre pine barrens, helps protect drinking water.

The nonprofit North Shore Land Alliance based in Mill Neck will receive $192,969 toward a marine district habitat restoration. The nonprofit plans to install an upland infiltration system designed to reduce the volume of stormwater runoff on a 40-acre parcel in Cold Spring Harbor. That will reduce pollutants prior to water reaching the Long Island Sound, according to the DEC.

Separately, the Town of Oyster Bay received a $450,000 grant from the New York State Environmental Facilities Corp. to bolster its green infrastructure. The town said the funding will be used for a project at Beekman Beach and the Mill River outfall.

Oyster Bay Town will install nine floating wetlands, restore 1,200 linear feet of wetlands and place oyster reefs to mitigate stormwater runoff. The money also will help push forward plans for a redesign of the 2-acre beach parking lot, the town said.

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