For Release: Tuesday, June 21, 2011
DEC and Nassau County Reach Agreement on Bay Park Facility
Plant Improvements Will Help Improve Overall Water Quality in the South Shore Estuary
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has reached an agreement with Nassau County on improvements to the Bay Park Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) facility and provides $500,000 towards a community environmental benefit project to study the viability of eliminating discharges from the facility from entering the South Shore Estuary Reserve.
"The signing of this Order on Consent shows how cooperation between the State and municipalities can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "This agreement will ensure the Bay Park Waste Water Treatment Plant undergoes much needed improvements that will enable it to function efficiently for years to come, while seeking long term solutions that may be able to improve overall water quality in the South Shore Estuary Reserve."
In October 2010, DEC became aware that a plume of brown water was flowing from the plant's outflow pipe. Investigation by DEC staff revealed that the Bay Park facility was only partially treating disinfected waste before discharging it into Reynold's Channel because several critical pieces of equipment were in disrepair or not functioning correctly.
Over the fall and winter, the DEC staff conducted frequent inspections of the facility and met with the County's Department of Public Works several times to find a solution to the problem. By January, at DEC's urging, the County acquired new equipment on an emergency basis that enabled the Plant to adequately treat the sewage. A new plant operator was hired and numerous changes and repairs to the plant were completed. As a result the plant was able to operate in compliance with its DEC permit.
DEC's enforcement efforts at Bay Park have led to numerous improvements in the facility's system. Improvements include:
- Hiring of a new plant operator;
- Repair of nine Final Settling Tanks;
- Upgrades to pumping equipment;
- Inspection and improvement of Primary Settling Tanks;
- Replacement of Dissolved Air Floatation (DAF) systems with Gravity Belt Thickeners (GBT); and,
- Restoration of staffing levels to meet minimum staff requirements to carry out proper operating functions of the facility.
Under the signed agreement, the facility must also:
- Develop an Infrastructure Assessment Plan to ensure the ongoing functionality of the plant;
- Inspect and make operational all Primary Settling Tanks; and
- Replace the current mobile GBTs with permanent GBTs and complete the decommissioning of the DAF system.
Discussions with the County included potential long term solutions that could eventually halt all discharging of wastewater from the facility into Reynolds Channel and subsequently into the South Shore Estuary Reserve. Solutions discussed included the extension of the outflow pipe across the Reserve so that it would eventually discharge into the Ocean, thereby allowing the treated wastewater to discharge into an open system where it can rapidly dissipate. This type of outflow pipe is already used at other waste water treatment plants in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Under the agreement signed by the state and the county, Nassau County will conduct a study to determine the feasibility of implementing this extension to the Bay Park Facility.
The agreement also includes a penalty of $1 million for past water quality violations, of which $500,000 has been suspended as long as the County complies with the terms of the agreement.
The Bay Park Waste Water Treatment Plant serves roughly 40% of Nassau County, and discharges approximately 70 million gallons of wastewater per day (MGD) into Reynolds Channel, which is part of the Western Bays in the Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve.