Nassau County opens new water treatment facility in East Rockaway
Nassau County announced Monday that it has opened a new water treatment facility in East Rockaway.
The Bay Park Water Reclamation Facility recently got an $810 million federal upgrade, which officials say is already bringing in returns with a 40% reduction in nitrogen.
"The waters will be cleaner, the fish will come back, the shellfish beds will be reopened and once again it will be that beautiful place that we call home," says Adreinne Esposito, with Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
The new biological nutrient removal system is now online and helping to reduce harmful nitrogen that ends up in the nearby Reynolds Channel and the South Shore bays.
The push for the upgrade came after Superstorm Sandy, which devastated the plant. But Sen. Chuck Schumer says the plant was poorly designed from the beginning.
"When the sewage plant treatment failed, it was a wake-up call on the need to get immediate federal dollars to modernize the plant," says Schumer. "It was a huge undertaking -- this plan had ancient mechanics, vast geography and dealt with the critical issue of water quality. So today, this is what $810 million looks like."
The plant is now removing 5,000 more pounds of nitrogen per day, but the grant is also funding more treatment. This includes a connector pipe to the plant's outflow into the ocean, instead of the bays, which will further protect the coastal environment. Officials say they hope further improvements will reduce nitrogen output by 80%.
David Crump lives across the street from the plant and says while the smell has only gotten slightly less noticeable, he has noticed improvements in the water already.
"I have seen more bay life this year than in past, so maybe something is different," he says.