Cuomo approves $439M Bay Park Conveyance Project

Mike Smollins for LI Herald

March 18, 2021

Originally published in Long Island Herald on March 18, 2021.

Construction on the $439 million Bay Park Conveyance Project is set to begin in the spring after Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved it on March 4. With the significant milestone completed, Western Bay Constructors Joint Venture was selected as the design-build contractor for the project.

The plan is to reroute treated effluent, or sewage, from the Bay Park Water Reclamation Facility to the Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control plant by way of a 100-year-old pipe under Sunrise Highway.

“This ambitious project will be critical in advancing our sustained efforts to reduce water pollution and restore water quality in our coastal communities,” Cuomo said in a statement. “For decades, Long Island’s coastal habitats have suffered from nitrogen pollution. We have been working diligently with our local partners to address this environmental threat, and by advancing the Bay Park Conveyance Project, we are taking further action to protect the Western Bays and the surrounding communities by increasing their resilience to future flooding.

The BPCP is a partnership between the state’s Environmental Conservation and the Nassau County Department of Public Works. It is slated to take three years to complete and once finished, it will divert as much as 75 million gallons of treated water per day and up to 90 percent of the nitrogen loading from Reynolds Channel and the Western Bays each year. This, in turn, will improve the resiliency and quality of life in the waterways.

Construction is set to begin this spring.

 “The revitalization of the Western Bays will significantly improve our environment and provide greater storm resiliency,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement. “By investing in Nassau’s environment, we are not only creating jobs and spurring economic development, but protecting homeowners by restoring the critical marshlands that serve as vital buffers during storms.”

With Western Bays Constructors Joint Venture designing and building the project, it saves costs and shortens the construction schedules. Other alternatives for the project could have cost up to $600 million and taken nearly a decade to construct. The DEC  is managing the design-build contractor, and upon completion, the Nassau DPW will own and operate the new facilities.

 The contract was approved by the Nassau County Legislature in November, and then approved by the county’s Finance Control Board, comptroller, and Curran. The DEC then signed the contract and submitted it to the state attorney general and comptroller for final approval.

The design-build team is tasked with creating a pump station at Bay Park, relining the Sunrise Highway aqueduct, building the pipeline from Bay Park to Sunrise and from Sunrise to the connection at the Cedar Creek outfall. The nitrogen-rich effluent accelerates algae growth, and as the algae breaks apart in the tides, it rots, robbing marine life of dissolved oxygen, causing “dead zones.”

Built in 1949, the Bay Park plant serves more than a half-million Nassau residents and discharges an average of 52 million gallons of treated effluent into the Western Bays each day, damaging some 10,000 acres of water and tidal marshland. The nitrogen contained in effluent causes seaweed to grow to unnatural lengths, robbing the waterways of the dissolved oxygen needed to sustain marine life. The nitrogen-rich effluent accelerates algae growth, and as the algae breaks apart in the tides, it rots, robbing marine life of dissolved oxygen, causing “dead zones.”

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat from Long Beach, lauded the approval of the project.

“For decades, the Western Bays have been polluted with treated effluent and nitrogen, harming our environment and quality-of-life,” he said in a statement. “This project will protect our communities from flooding, purify our water, and bolster our local ecological vitality — and I was proud to work with my partners in government to get it done.”