The troubled Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant earned a grade of D in a local environmental group’s first-ever Long Island Sewage Report Card, ranking the lowest of 10 large plants selected for the study.
The grades were based on handling of spills, energy efficiency, public education and a litany of other factors. It also highlighted disparities between Nassau County plants subject to multi-million-dollar renovations after years of neglect and counterparts in Suffolk County, where most residents still rely on septic tanks that have been found to leach pollutants into underground drinking water supplies.
“We wanted to bring the report home that the sewage report card is scary news,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Farmingdale-based nonprofit Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which released the report on Halloween to emphasize that point.
Two other plants shared in the “D” grade. They include the Long Beach plant—which sits near Bay Park on the other side of the body of water they both empty into, Reynolds Channel—and the Stony Brook plant.
The Huntington Sewage Treatment Plant topped the list with the lone A+ grade, followed by Bergen Point, which took home a B+. Patchogue and Riverhead plants were each graded B while Glen Cove earned a C+. Port Jefferson was graded C, along with Wantagh/Seaford’s Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant—Bay Park’s sister plant.
Cedar Creek held the distinction of most violations from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation but earned a higher grade for recent and continuing renovations at the plant. The county is also renovating Bay Park, a plant plagued with discharges of partially treated wastewater and biosolids into the channel.
“This reports data from 2005 to 2010 confirms what we already know, the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant was neglected for a decade,” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said in a statement. “Since taking office in 2010, my administration has invested tens of millions of dollars in preventative maintenance and repairs. As a result of major management and operational changes, the plants’ negative impact on our environment and community has been mitigated.”
A spokesman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy said Department of Public Works officials are reviewing the report and believe they have found at least one error.
“The need to upgrade and enhance our sewers is the exact reason why County Executive Levy, working together with organizations such as CCE, developed the program that will inject millions into sewer construction and enhancement from the Assessment Reserve Fund,” said Levy spokesman Mark Smith.
Long Beach city officials congratulated the group on conducting the analysis but took issue with the approach and disputed their grade.
“The concept for the report is excellent, but I don’t think we agree with the criteria or certainly the grade,” said Kevin Mulligan, the department of public works commissioner for the city. He notes that the plant is undergoing an up to $5 million upgrade to improve the quality of effluent discharged. He believes his plant should have earned a B.
“The facilities that got good grades are ecstatic and the facilities that had bad grades are finding fault with the methodology,” said Esposito, noting the same response from the group’s earlier LI recycling report card. She said the report “looked at these facilities holistically to evaluate the entire treatment plant.”