Thousands of Long Islanders along the South Shore can finally expect to see sewer systems come to their communities, thanks to the approval this week of two projects that were nearly a decade in the making.
The Suffolk County Legislature approved several bills to proceed with the long-awaited Carlls River and Forge River sewer extension projects. The two sewer jobs in Babylon and the Shirley/Mastic areas will connect more than 5,700 homes to sewers, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.
In the Shirley/Mastic area, the historic project will connect roughly 1,889 homes and 150 businesses to a state-of-the-art sewage treatment facility, eliminating thousands of outdated cesspools and septic systems which contribute to the nitrogen pollution in the Forge River and the Narrows Bay, Suffolk County Legislator Jim Mazzarella said.
“This is a historic moment for the Mastic/Shirley Peninsula and the homeowners within the boundaries of the sewer district who will be eligible to connect their homes with no out-of-pocket expenses,” said Mazzarella, legislator of the county’s Third District. “This project will greatly reduce the nitrogen load in the Forge River, and will also create jobs and revitalize the business corridor along Montauk Highway.”
Bellone agreed on the historical significance of the two projects.
“(It) is the culmination of years of hard work by the county’s water quality team, supported by environmental groups, organized labor, and the building trades,” Bellone said in a released statement. “(This is) a special day for the nearly 6,000 homeowners who have been waiting for years, and will now have their homes connected to sewers with all construction costs funded by grants,” he said.
The sewer initiatives date back to Hurricane Sandy’s aquatic assault on Long Island. In the wake of the storm’s destruction, the county was awarded federal grants with the hope to mitigate future damages from destructive weather events. Three years later, the Suffolk County Coastal Resiliency Initiative (SCCRI) was formed to protect some of the island’s coastal areas.
While Bellone did not specify when, the county said the passed legislation means construction contracts can now be awarded.
By the numbers
The price tag for both projects is about $383 million, according to Newsday. The Carlls and Forge river projects will cost $157 million and $225.7 million respectively.
According to Bellone, $232 million in federal funds were provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) and the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development through the New York State Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR).
Property owners impacted by the Carlls River expansion are expected to pay $532 a year, Newsday reported. Those owners who receive sewer hookups following the Forge River project can expect to pay an average of $470 a year to cover sewer taxes and maintenance costs.
According to Newsday’s coverage, the Carlls River expansion will link 2,184 homes across North Babylon, West Babylon, Deer Park, Wyandanch and Wheatley Heights to the Southwest Sewer District.
The outlet said construction on both projects is slated to last through 2024.
The impacts, however, will last much longer.
“The approval of these contracts is an important first step in protecting our groundwater and surface waters,” Kevin McCaffrey, the minority leader of the Suffolk County Legislature said in the press release. “Regardless of where you live in this county, expanding our sewer system will benefit our environment for generations to come.”
Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine noted the significance of the Forge River sewer project.
“The water quality of the Forge River has been a point of concern for many years and I am pleased that the problem will now be addressed and not just talked about,” he said. “This sewer district will provide some of the positive environmental and economic assistance that our area needs.
Brookhaven Town Councilman Dan Panico added, “The economic opportunity along our commercial corridors can now be potentially unlocked with the availability of sanitary capacity that a sewer district will bring. Even out of district connections to areas like downtown Mastic Beach will make redevelopment possible.”
Top: File image, Forge River