$28M in new sewer grant money for Tri-Hamlet area

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 Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone announced $28 million in new funding to advance additional sewer expansion on the Mastic Shirley peninsula. The grants, funded by the county’s Water Infrastructure Fund, includes $20 million to help fund the design and construction of sewers within the Town’s Mastic Shirley Revitalization Area and $8 million to fund the design for the next phase of the Forge River sewer project already under construction.   

“The county is proud to support the efforts of the Town of Brookhaven to work with the Mastic Beach community on a visioning process for the Neighborhood Road area,” said Bellone.  “One key part of any successful revitalization process will be the need to provide sewers in the study area. The Feasibility Study now underway will determine the best approach to provide sewers for the revitalization area. The $20 million in funding we are announcing today will help to get the project designed, and to make it affordable for business owners.” 

 The Forge River Watershed Sewer project is the most recent of the Suffolk County Coastal Resiliency sewer projects to start construction, breaking ground in January of 2022. The Forge River Watershed Sewer project will connect 1,889 homes to a new treatment plant being built in Mastic. The project will sewer the first two phases of a four-phase sewer project that were the subject of a Feasibility Study complete in 2013. The $8 million in funding announced today will be used to design Phase 3 of the project so that it is “shovel ready” and eligible for additional federal and state grant funding. 

 Water quality in the Forge River has been the source of heightened community concern since 2005, when a significant fish kill event prompted local residents to establish an advocacy organization, Save the Forge River, to press for a coordinated effort to assess the causes of discolored water and sulfur odors in the river. The Town of Brookhaven responded by creating the Forge River Protection Task Forcewhich coordinated efforts involving the Suffolk County Department of Health Services Office of Ecology (SCDHS/DEQ), the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SOMAS), and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), to study the nutrient cycle in the river and sources of excess nutrients. As part of that effort, SCDHS installed monitoring wells along the west bank of the river to assess the quality of groundwater entering the river and confirmed that excess nutrients from cesspools and septic systems were being transmitted into the river. SOMAS professors characterized the river as being one of the most eutrophic or oxygen starved water bodies in the northeastern United States. The Task Force recommended focused efforts to advance a sewer plan for the area. 

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Suffolk County and NYS DEC elevated the issue of excess nutrients from cesspools and septic systems and the resulting degradation of coastal wetlands that protect mainland areas from storm surge as a coastal resiliency concern. As an outgrowth of that effort, the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery made the SCCRI sewer projects part of New York State’s Post-Sandy coastal resiliency plan, leading to the successful push to secure nearly $400 million for the SCCRI sewer projects. 

The overall budget for all three SCCRI projects is $408 million. Sources of funding include $243 million from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and $66 million from the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program administered by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The federal funds are being made available as part of the state’s Post-Sandy resiliency initiative through the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR), and the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES). New York State has committed $30.7 million in state financial assistance. The Forge River Watershed project budget is $223 million. Suffolk County will invest $42 million of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding in the Forge River project.