Cleaner Bay, Cleaner Ocean


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Come to the rally at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive Building at 1550 Franklin Avenue, Mineola at 11 Am Tues Feb 11th to show support for rebuilding the Bay Park Sewage treatment plant right!

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Cleaner Bay, Cleaner Ocean

  1. 1. Save Our Western Bays A Cleaner Bay A Cleaner Ocean The Case for an Ocean Outfall Background The Western Bays were once highly productive fishing and shell fishing grounds containing the largest concentration of salt marshes in the South Shore Estuary Reserve. These bays were historically a major economic asset supporting recreation, commercial fisheries, real estate values, and tourism. Unfortunately, this once vibrant ecosystem has been experiencing ongoing and accelerating degradation of water quality, excessive Ulva (seaweed) growth, degraded salt marshes, hypoxia, and diminished shellfish harvesting for over a decade. As a result, these waters were added to EPA’s 303(d) impaired water bodies list in 2008. Based on recent scientific studies, the evidence is clear: The Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) outfall pipe must be removed from Reynolds Channel and relocated out into the Atlantic Ocean. An ocean outfall is necessary to save the Bays; ensure cleaner ocean beaches; protect the public’s health; and preserve our quality of life. This is not only the best option, it is the only option. Recent Developments & Facts The Bay Park sewage treatment plant (STP) services 42% of Nassau County (more than 500,000 people). Since 2008, over $1.64 million in state and federal money has been spent on studies documenting high levels of ammonia, nitrate, and Ulva concentrated at or around the Bay Park outfall pipe located in the middle of Reynolds Channel, and suffocating the Western Bays ecosystem. These studies disclosed that the Bay Park and Long Beach sewage treatment plant outfalls contribute 94% (87.9% and 6.1% respectively) of the total dissolved nitrogen into the immediate West Bay and 79.4% of the nitrogen to the entire western bays complex. The studies proved unequivocally: The Bays are not just impaired, they are imperiled; and the location of the Bay Park outfall and its ongoing inferior discharge is indeed the reason.
  2. 2. Similar projects have shown positive results: Two successful nearby case studies Mumford Cove, CT: In 1945, a sewage treatment plant was built to service a local Navy housing project, which discharged into Mumford Cove, CT. By 1971, approximately 0.4 million gallons of treated effluent was being discharged into this small and shallow cove each day. By 1985, the discharge had increased to 3.5 million gallons a day, greatly increasing the total nitrogen content in the Cove as well. As a result, by 1987, there was such an abundance of Ulva, the Cove had become devoid of seagrass (which acts as a nursery for fish, clams, and other sea life) — quite similar to the conditions being witnessed in the Western Bays today. In 1987, the plant’s discharge pipe was moved from the Cove to the Thames River. In less than a year, the Cove’s Ulva content was reduced by 99%; and, within 10 years, the seagrass had returned and, once again, become its dominant plant life! Deer Island, MA: At a capacity of 1.27 Billion gallons per day, the Deer Island sewage treatment plant is the second largest STP in the US. Prior to 2000 Boston’s sewage discharged into Boston Harbor which in 1988 was famously characterized as one of the most polluted waterbodies in the US. In 2000, the outfall pipe was relocated offshore to Massachusetts Bay and upgrades were made to the treatment plant. There is an extensive program in place to monitor the new outfall and surrounding waters to ensure the effluent continues to meet requisite standards. The program indicates a complete and ongoing success — Boston Harbor is cleaner, and Massachusetts Bay has not been negatively impacted by the outfall pipe. This success is due to: improvements that were made to the plant itself, resulting in cleaner effluent; and the relocation of its outfall pipe, resulting in better and more complete dilution of the effluent. Superstorm Sandy During Superstorm Sandy, nine and a half feet of seawater flooded the Bay Park STP — resulting in the entire plant shutting down and approximately 2.2 billion gallons of raw and partially treated sewage being discharged into the Western Bays. Sewage backed up onto streets, into homes, and defiled the bays, creating health hazards, causing millions of dollars in damages, and threatening the ecosystem.
  3. 3. How Will advanced treatment combined with an Ocean Outfall Benefit Long Islanders? 1. It Will Provide for a Cleaner Bay & Ocean Beaches. Excessive nitrogen loading in the Western Bays is causing seaweed so dense, it not only depletes precious oxygen from the waterways, it stifles marine life at the bay bottom. In addition, when mass amounts of seaweed strand along the bayside and ocean shorelines, it affects human health, quality of life, and our local economy. Noxious hydrogen sulfide gas, originating from Ulva decomposition, wafts through communities and inundates seaside dining establishments with the odor of rotting eggs. In July 2013, seaweed stranding became so voluminous at some of the most popular ocean beaches that the Town of Hempstead was forced to plow and truck it away on a daily basis. Increased mixing in the ocean, advanced treatment standards, and vigilant monitoring will provide for improvements to the bay as well as along ocean beaches. Similar to the Deer Island case study: Improving treatment of effluent and discharging it to an improved flushed location will dramatically reduce nutrients fueling harmful algae blooms and excessive seaweed growth that currently fouls bay and ocean beaches. 2. It Will Protect the Salt Marsh Islands that in turn protect us. The Western Bays’ salt marsh islands provide critical habitat for birds and marine species; offer substantial economic opportunities for residents and tourists; and protect low-lying communities from damaging wave energy and coastal erosion. Unfortunately, the integrity of these marshes are being undermined by excessive nitrogen pollution from the Bay Park STP. Studies evince their root systems are thinning — making them more and more susceptible to erosion and collapsing along their edges. As these marshes erode and sink, shoreline communities lose their natural buffer against high-energy waves, increasing the risk of wave and water damage for many waterfront properties. Turning off the nitrogen spigot in the bay will force the salt marsh roots to work harder, strengthening the integrity of the salt marsh islands that protect our coastal communities. 3. It Will Protect Communities & the Environment Against Future Catastrophic Events. Bay Park, one of the oldest STP’s on Long Island, has a long history of troubles and violations, resulting in millions of gallons of raw and partially treated sewage being released in dangerously close proximity to surrounding bayside communities. Had the 2.2 billion gallon Sandy spill occurred during the hot summer months, it would have and triggered serious ahuman health crises and at the exact time when residents and response crews were already overburdened with many other storm-related emergencies. While ideally future disruptions can be averted, we would be naive to believe they won’t recur. An ocean outfall pipe will ensure the even in a crisis, sewage can be discharged offshore, outside the sensitive bay, and away from human communities. Discharging Bay Park effluent further away from high density coastal communities and sensitive enclosed embayment is the safest and most prudent course of action.
  4. 4. What Must Be Implemented Now A Modern, State-of-the-Art Sewage Treatment Plant The re-engineering of the Bay Park STP provides a unique opportunity to employ modern treatment techniques that will improve the quality of effluent; abate plant noise and odor in the adjacent communities; and recover and/or utilize waste resources. For instance, ultraviolet technology should be installed to disinfect pathogens, rather than chlorine, which will save in chronic chemical costs and be safer for our environment. In addition, recovery of latent heat from generators has the potential to accelerate biological nitrogen reactions in winter; and methane gas can be used as a fuel. Most importantly, it is critical to fully anticipate that wastewater treatment technology will continue to advance. Therefore, any STP reconstruction must plan for incorporating future upgrades and technological improvements into its design. It is also important to note modernizations that advance energy efficiencies or resource recovery opportunities that may be eligible for assistance from the US DOE or NYSERDA. Strict & Enforceable Discharge Standards Nassau County’s economy is heavily dependent upon water-based recreation, fisheries and beaches. Transferring the bay’s problems to the ocean is not an acceptable outcome. Relocating the outfall pipe from Reynolds Channel to the New York Bight is in no way intended to be a “free-pass’. Simply, the days of permitting sewage discharges into any surface waters without the strictest of treatment standards, compliance and respective enforcement are at an end. A successfully renovated, state-of -the-art Bay Park Treatment Plant will set an example and incentive to “reset the bar,;” acting as the archetypal model for future STP renovations and constructions and mandating the highest possible outfall discharge standards in New York Bight. Professional Operators After extensive research and numerous meetings throughout the last several years, the Western Bays Coalition recognizes and supports an established and highly experienced, qualified, professional contractor, specializing in wastewater treatment management, to be an essential component for a cleaner bay and ocean. It has become exceedingly clear the Bay Park STP must be operated by a management and engineering firm possessing a proven history of successfully operating and implementing advanced wastewater technology. Vigilant Oversight Two other key components are crating a community oversight board; and installing digital real-time dashboard to monitor key discharge parameters. Community oversight and real-time monitoring will not only help facilitate local supervision, but also expedite compliance reporting for plant operators and assist County officials in effectuating their reporting requirements to state and federal agencies. When installed, the dashboard could send real-time information directly to NY State, in a way that is compliant and consistent with the Sewage Right to Know Law, signed by Governor Cuomo in August 2012. The Western Bays Coalition Citizens Campaign for the Environment * Operation SPLASH * The Nature Conservancy * Point Lookout Civic Association * Sludge Stoppers