December 28, 2010

Kopel Secures $11 Million in Federal EPA Reimbursements

for Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant Upgrades

Legislator Howard J. Kopel has announced that the Environmental Protection Agency has committed to release $11 million of a $20 million grant reimbursement it has owed Nassau County since the mid-80s for Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant upgrades.

The EPA’s decision to finally honor their commitment is the result of increased pressure by Legislator Howard Kopel, County Executive Ed Mangano, Hempstead Town Senior Councilman Anthony J. Santino, and United States Senator Chuck Schumer. These four elected officials worked in a bipartisan fashion to secure the release of much overdue funds from the federal government.

“The EPA will issue $3.1 million immediately, and will release the $7.9 million balance after the associated paperwork is completed,” said Legislator Kopel.

The EPA awarded a grant to Nassau County in 1984 to upgrade and expand the Bay Park and Cedar Creek wastewater treatment plants. In compliance with the grant requirements, Nassau County outlaid the full amount for the construction, which was completed nearly 25 years ago. The promised reimbursement from the federal government was never paid.

The federal government has not made a determination on whether or not Nassau County can expect to receive the remaining $9 million itis owed.

“$11 million is a much-needed amount of money that will beused to continue to improve, upgrade, and enhance the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant. In less than a year since I took office, this is yet another positive step to improve the quality of life for the Bay Park and East Rockaway communities that I have the privilege of representing, said Legislator Kopel.

“We can most certainly use the additional $9 million. I hope the federal government realizes it owes us this money. We can use it here,” Kopelsaid.

United States Senator Charles Schumer said “The fact that $20 million has been withheld from Nassau County for 30 years is simply unacceptable and it’s time for the EPA to pay up. It’s outrageous that these grants were never paid to the county and it’s time for the EPA to reimburse Nassau County taxpayers so that they aren’t on the hook for future costs and repairs for the county’s sewer system."

Town of Hempstead Senior Councilman Anthony J. Santino said,"Improvements to the Bay Park Sewage Treatment are long overdue. Today's bipartisan efforts to obtain federal dollars will benefit the entire community.While the federal government has taken steps towards remedying the outrageous conditions in Bay Park, they still have 9 million more steps to take.”

The full $11 million reimbursement will be used for essential upgrades to the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, a Department of Public Works facility located within Legislative District 7 that fell under much neglect over the past several years.

The effort to upgrade the Bay Park plant has been one of Legislator Kopel’s key priorities since taking office in January 2010. These funds will add much to upgrades already made to reduce odors, eliminate excessive solids from being discharged into Reynolds Channel, and improving the sewage treatment process.

In recent months, mechanical failures at the Bay Park plant led to the release of treated sewage into Reynolds Channel. Although the sewage was disinfected with chlorine, and posed no health or environmental risk to surrounding population or wildlife, the practice violated New York State Department of Environmental Conservation law.

To maintain compliance, Legislator Kopel requested and was granted emergency funding to upgrade equipment at the plant.

“While we would have preferred the EPA to resolve this matter a quarter of a century ago, I say ‘better late than never,’” says Legislator Kopel. "The Bay Park and East Rockaway communities have suffered from past neglect. I won’t allow it any longer. Having this money in our hands means we can immediately begin improving the quality of life for the many seniors and working families here."