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Letter: Stop Playing Politics With Nassau’s Sewers

The Nassau County Legislative Democrats have now twice voted to deny critical funding for the repair of Nassau County’s sewage treatment infrastructure damaged by Superstorm Sandy. To be clear, the actions of the Nassau County Democrats, if left unchallenged, will delay recovery efforts and will place public safety and the environment at risk.

 

The Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant serves nearly 500,000 Nassau County residents and processes on average 50 million gallons of sewage daily. Flooding caused by Superstorm Sandy devastated this facility, knocking many systems off-line. The damage was so severe that millions of gallons of raw sewage backed up into homes and was released into south shore waters. 

 

The plan advanced by Nassau County’s engineers calls for nearly $722M to fund rebuilding and storm-hardening efforts--90 percent of this amount will be reimbursed by the federal government through FEMA. 

 

Blatantly ignoring the advice of Nassau County’s expert engineers that failure to approve the total funding request will delay this vital reconstruction, the Democrats have denied funding for the repair of the Bay Park Facility’s electrical distribution system and other storm hardening measures. The contractors selected for these electrical and storm-hardening projects will be the linchpins to the rebuilding process, and the performance of every other contractor depends upon their work. The Democrats know well that to delay these projects is to delay the reconstruction of the plant. I wonder if the Democrats would have voted differently if raw sewage backed up into their houses. What is most troubling is that the Democrats justify their “No” votes with false statements on debt and oversight. The reality is that County Executive Mangano has reduced total overall county debt by millions of dollars from levels incurred by his predecessor Tom Suozzi. 

 

As for oversight, both FEMA and NIFA will work closely with Nassau County as the rebuilding process proceeds. Additionally, County Executive Mangano has created the Hurricane Sandy Waste Water Advisory Board comprised of environmentalists, union and community leaders so as to provide unprecedented transparency as to how this process is accomplished. Finally, Nassau County’s elected legislature will aggressively monitor all phases of construction. 

 

Calls for additional layers of bureaucracy by Nassau County’s Democrats are not going to aid in Nassau County’s recovery. It is the job of Nassau County’s elected officials to ensure that our sewer facilities are repaired quickly and efficiently.

And though Nassau’s Democrats would look to unelected boards and commissions to do their job for them, I assure you that the Republican delegation will work tirelessly to assist our residents as we recover from this devastating storm.

 

On behalf of the 1 million residents connected to Nassau County’s sewer system, I urge Nassau County Democrats to approve the funding required to rebuild the Bay Park STP.

 

Norma Gonsalves, Presiding Officer, Legislator, LD 13