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The Port Washington Water Pollution Control District (PWWPCD) recently held a public hearing where they announced plans for capital improvements. The scheduled system enhancements include the following projects: Full-Scale Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) and Total Residual Chlorine (TRC) Reduction, Bio-solids Refractory Rehabilitation and Outfall Line Rehabilitation.

The BNR AND TRC Reduction Project is designed to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant to meet the nitrogen and total chlorine reduction targets mandated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). According to the PWWPCD, the state regulations require a target reduction by 2014 of 65 percent from the 1990s baseline. In her presentation at the meeting, PWWPCD business manager Helen Chen pointed out that the Long Island Sound Study had identified nitrogen discharges to be the major source of low dissolved oxygen levels, resulting, among other problems, in the death of aquatic organisms. Among the components of these projects are an Orbal multichannel for sludge treatment, an ultraviolet disinfection system that destroys pathogens in final effluent with no residual chlorine that might be harmful to human or aquatic life, reconstruction and remediation in the sludge reactor/incinerator, which thermally destructs all biosolids on site, and outfall line rehabilitation. Robert Breslin, PWWPCD superintendent, pointed out that the outfall pipe, which discharges the treatment plant's effluent into Manhasset Bay, is over 50 years old. He said, "The outfall pipe is in pretty good shape for its age, but it needs rehabilitation." He added, "We will use a 'cured-in-place' lining to reline the pipe."

The questions that taxpayers naturally ask are: how much will this cost, how will it be funded, and what is the impact on my taxes? In answer to the first question, the total cost is $34 million. Of this, $11 million will be funded from a grant under the Clean Water/Clean Air Act of 1996. The remaining $23 million will be financed through a New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (NYSEFC) Loan. According to Chen, the cash flow will be interest-free for the first three years. Thereafter, all short-term borrowings will be refinanced by the NYSEFC with a 50 percent-interest-subsidized loan. Chen estimated the savings in interest expenses at $10.2 million. The PWWPCD plans to introduce a tax stabilization plan to smooth out the impact on the taxpayer. Bottom line, Chen said that the budget increases will average 4.9 percent over a 10-year period. She estimated that a homeowner with a house assessed at $1,903 in 2007 will see an average annual tax increase of $31. Breslin emphasized that the district's tax increases over the years have been much lower than the Consumer Price Index.

Breslin said that they anticipate that construction will commence in January of 2008, plant operations running by 2010 and the final reduction completed by 2014. In conclusion, the PWWPCD stated that the three proposed projects ensure clean air and clean water that is free of pathogens, protection of wetlands and aquatic and marine life, upgrading of the wastewater treatment plant and compliance with DEC's State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES). These objectives are consistent with the mission of the PWWPCD as stated in its published mission statement: "to maintain and improve the quality of life of our constituents, and to protect the public health and the environment in an effective, efficient and responsible manner." For more information about the PWWPCD, visit their newly created website at www.pwwpcd.us.


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