Just in time for Earth Day on April 22, construction began on the long-awaited Bay Park Conveyance Project.
The plan will redirect treated effluent, or wastewater, from the South Shore Water Reclamation Facility in Bay Park to the Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant’s ocean outfall pipe on the Wantagh-Seaford border using a pipe beneath Sunrise Highway that is more than 100 years old. The project is a critical component of the state’s efforts to reduce nitrogen pollution and restore water quality to the Western Bays and surrounding South Shore communities.
“For decades, nitrogen has been harming the Western Bays’ waters and habitats, and on this Earth Day we are making a real difference by not just talking about the problem, but actually delivering solutions that will make a real difference for these communities,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a virtual news conference ushering in the project. “The start of construction on the Bay Park Conveyance Project marks a critical milestone in our ambitious plan to improve water quality and environmental health on Long Island and across the state, and it will fundamentally change the entire South Shore for generations to come.”
Western Bays Constructors Joint Venture has been selected as the design-build contractor responsible for the $439 million project, which will be overseen by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. On Earth Day, work began on building the diversion structure and the first microtunneling shaft for the project.
The plan builds on $830 million in state and federal funds previously invested in the multi-year rebuild of the Bay Park plant. The projects, combined with other state and county investments in resiliency, support the restoration of the Western Bays, will protect important marine resources and boost local economies, with the added benefit of better protection to coastal communities against future damage from storms.
Nassau County will also receive assistance of more than $395 million in funding through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Storm Mitigation Loan Program during the initial phase of the project. That includes $362 million in low-cost loans and $33.9 million in grant funding. More financial support is anticipated as the project progresses.
“The revitalization of the Western Bays will improve our environment and provide greater storm resiliency to thousands of homeowners and businesses,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement. “This significant investment in Nassau’s environment creates jobs, spurs economic development and protects homeowners by restoring the critical marshlands that serve as vital buffers during storms.”
Built in 1949, the Bay Park plant serves more than half a million Nassau County residents and discharges an average of 52 million gallons of treated effluent into the Western Bays each day, adversely affecting some 10,000 acres of water and tidal marshland. The nitrogen contained in treated effluent breaks down and severely damages coastal marshes, which serve as natural storm surge barriers protecting hundreds of thousands of residents and millions of dollars in property along the South Shore.
When completed, the Bay Park Conveyance Project will divert as much as 75 million gallons of treated wastewater per day from Reynolds Channel and the Western Bays ecosystem and reduce up to 90 percent of the nitrogen loading. The resulting water quality response will improve regional resiliency and quality of life. The Nassau County Department of Public Works will own and operate the new facilities.
The project’s construction is expected to last three years.
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat from Long Beach and the chair of the Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee, said he was pleased to see the project begin.
“For decades, our waterways have been polluted with nitrogen-laden effluent, harming the South Shore’s environment, economy and storm resilience,” Kaminsky said in a statement. “This game-changing project will protect our communities from flooding, purify our water and bolster our local ecological vitality.”