Over $5.8 Million in BIL Funds Awarded to Port Washington Plant for Sewer System Improvements

On February 15, 2024, Governor Kathy Hochul announced more than $166 million awarded to 187 water quality improvement projects (WQIP) throughout New York. Included in the total grant pool is $5.8 million from the Long Island Sound Study, made possible by Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The grant will support improvements to the Port Washington Water Pollution Control District’s wastewater treatment plant in Nassau County, which discharges to Manhasset Bay, a stewardship area of LISS and one of several major embayments on Long Island’s North Shore. The bay’s waters have been designated a significant coastal fish and wildlife habitat since 1987, productive especially for marine finfish. Water bodies surrounding Port Washington have been impacted by contamination from stormwater runoff, aged septic systems, and occasional sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs), causing high levels of fecal coliform bacteria in waters.

Improvements to the plant’s approximately 16,000 linear feet of underground pipes will reduce SSOs—the release of untreated or partially treated sewage from a city’s sewer system, which will improve both bacteria levels and water quality in the Sound. The Long Island Sound Study grant will cover 80 percent of the total project cost, helping to lessen the tax burden on residents of the district, which services over 28,000 people. Construction will start in early 2025.

“Nationwide we are investing in clean water and providing billions of dollars to improve our nation’s water infrastructure while safeguarding people’s health and boosting local economies,” said Lisa Garcia, EPA Region 2 Administrator, in a press release from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. “This is a critical moment in time to upgrade water infrastructure in New York State and we commend the state for making these vital improvements, particularly in underserved communities.”

The Manhasset Bay Protection Committee, formed in 1998, performs routine water quality monitoring of the bay’s waters, registering some of its highest bacteria concentrations at sampling stations near the Port Washington plant. The most significant contributor to bacteria levels in the bay is aging and failing sewage infrastructure which, over time, is more likely to leak sewage. The Port Washington Water Pollution Control District was originally built in 1915. Most of its infrastructure is at least 50 years old, with some portions over 100 years old, putting it at a higher risk of blockages and pipe line breaks which cause overflows. However, with updates for this project, the system’s sewer pipes will be able to stay in service for an additional 50 years.

“Everything is aging,” said Sarah Deonarine, Executive Director of the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee. “So any improvement to nearby sewer infrastructure is huge for Manhasset Bay and will help us improve water quality in the area.”

The anticipated end date for construction is 2026. Round 19 of WQIP awards also includes three state-funded projects within the Long Island Sound watershed, including a Crab Meadow Watershed Water Quality Improvement Plan by the Town of Huntington, a Narrow River Aquatic Habitat Connectivity Restoration Project by the Town of Southold, and a Shore Road Habitat Restoration Project by the North Shore Land Alliance. You can read more about the Water Quality Improvement Program here.

The Sewage Pollution Right to Know Law (SPRTK) requires that publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) and publicly owned sewer systems (POSSs) report sewage spills to the public within four hours of discovery. The NY-Alert system relays sewage discharge alerts to the public directly through phone calls, emails, and texts. Anybody interested in receiving sewage discharge notifications is encouraged to sign-up for NY-Alert by visiting the Sewage Pollution Right to Know webpage.

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