Officials are eyeing Oct. 29, 2022 — the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy — as a completion date for the Bay Park Conveyance Project, now that they have sent out a request for qualifications to interested design-and-build teams.
The $408 million project will send treated effluent, or wastewater, from the Bay Park Water Reclamation Facility to an ocean outfall pipe at the Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant in Wantagh, using a 100- year-old aqueduct beneath Sunrise Highway.
“This project has to happen,” said Brian Schneider, the deputy county executive for parks and public works. “It’s not just a pipe in the ground. It’s something that I think is going to change the environment going forward for generations to come. It’s something that’s a long time coming.”
Schneider said the request for qualifications would bring in submissions from contractors and engineers. Responses to the RFQ are due by January, he said, after which officials will create a short list of firms to which they will send a request for proposals. Schneider said he anticipated that as many as 50 firms would respond to the RFQ.
The RFP process will begin in February, and the proposals will be due by June, Schneider said. He added that the goal would be to select a firm by July, which the County Legislature would approve in early August, with the hope of getting state approval in September so construction could begin in October.
“It’s a very aggressive timeline,” Schneider said. “In order for us to meet the construction schedule and be completed by October 2022, we have to have shovels in the ground by October 2020.”
The design-build team will be tasked with creating a pump station at Bay Park, relining the Sunrise Highway aqueduct, building the pipeline from Bay Park to Sunrise Highway and from Sunrise to the connection at the Cedar Creek outfall.
The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation will evaluate qualifications of submitting firms, and select the most qualified design-build teams to submit proposals. The DEC will manage the design-build contract.
“This innovative project is showing the world the power of investing in building stronger, more resilient infrastructure systems,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “Our partnership with Nassau County on the Bay Park Conveyance Project will help transform, restore and revive Long Island’s Western Bays, while helping ensure this vital resource is protected from future extreme weather events.”
The conveyance project will connect the Bay Park plant to Cedar Creek’s outfall by constructing two underground tunnels and using the abandoned aqueduct to join with Cedar Creek’s three-mile long ocean outfall that has a one-mile long diffusion pipe at the end. Due in large part to nitrogen in treated wastewater discharges from the Bay Park plant, as well as Long Beach, Cedarhurst and Lawrence treatment plants, the Western Bays are impaired by macro algae blooms and other water quality impacts, such as low dissolved oxygen.
When completed, the conveyance project will allow for the ecological recovery of the Western Bays at a substantially lower cost and shorter construction schedule than other options considered — such as building an entirely new outfall pipe — which would have cost more than $600 million and taken nearly a decade to construct. The project will reduce 19 billion gallons of treated wastewater and more than 95 percent of the nitrogen loading into Reynolds Channel and the Western Bays each year.
“Great projects are led by a great team,” County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement. “. . . The state and county are seeking a highly-qualified team of design-build firms to clean up the bays, restore the marine ecosystem and restore storm/buffering marshes to make the South Shore more storm-resilient.”
The project builds on $830 million in state and federal funds already invested in the rebuild of the Bay Park plant. During Sandy, floodwaters inundated the engines of the plant’s main pumping system and compromised its electrical grid. The plant experienced loss of treatment services and conveyance for nearly three days, resulting in a public health crisis from sewage backup and overflow. The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery provided $101 million for the third phase of electrical resiliency work, which includes the construction of a new main substation that houses power distribution for the entire plant, emergency generators and gears.
Now equipped with several sources of emergency power and distribution in a structure built eight feet above base flood elevation, the Bay Park plant will be able to treat and pump wastewater during a storm that exceeds the intensity of Sandy. The rebuild also includes the repair and upgrade of numerous treatment systems, collection systems, pump stations and the installation of engineered structures to protect other plant operations. Nassau County is installing two nitrogen treatment systems at the Bay Park facility to reduce nitrogen concentrations in treated wastewater by up to 50 percent. Only a few more elements of the rebuild remain.
The conveyance project also relies on the county reaching a deal with PSEG Long Island and the Long Island Power Authority to provide additional underground power lines from the G.F. Barrett Generation Station, in Island Park, to Bay Park, which officials said is necessary to power the operation. According to Schneider, PSEG must design and construct a system to connect Island Park to Bay Park by using underground electrical lines, and the project will cost $30 million.
Schneider said that talks were ongoing, and he hoped that an agreement would be presented to the County Legislature by January. “We’re very anxious to move ahead,” he said. “We have made significant progress.”