Plans for south Patchogue sewer project
At a public meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 24, village and county officials, along with engineers, detailed plans to install sewers in the southern portion of Patchogue. The plan is an effort to improve environmental impacts, efficiency of waste management, and use of grant dollars.
Suffolk County Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) explained that the opportunity first came after Hurricane Sandy, when the Federal Emergency Management Agency told him that recovery dollars could be used for a project like this. He added that county executive Steve Bellone was applying for FEMA grants to install sewers in vulnerable communities. Calarco said he lobbied Bellone to include Patchogue on that list.
“We needed to take a look at how do we protect our community as well,” he said, noting the bodies of water that surround the village.
Patchogue has an existing sewer system, but this plan would extend it into south Patchogue. The system has the capacity to expand to homeowners, Calarco said, due to the setup and expansions made by mayor Paul Pontieri and those before him. The sewer plant was expanded in 2011 from 500,000 gallons to 800,000 gallons.
“We were the perfect place to apply for the dollars,” Calarco said.
Calarco cited the high water table for a reason to switch to sewers, which could cause flooding if overloaded. He also said nitrogen levels are of concern, which cause brown and red tides, as well as deplete important marine species when dumped into the bay.
The installation project is 100 percent funded by state and federal grants. The sewers will be installed at no cost to taxpayers if they elect to be a part of the program. The cost for sewer installation can range for an average homeowner from $10,000 to $25,000. The project is funded by federal Community Development Block Grants, which pay for the infrastructure elements like pipes and road alterations. The second source is from the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which will pay for installation of the pipes into the home and the grinder pump. The state funding comes from the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery.
Once the new sewers are placed, the existing septic system will be filled with sand and gravel and abandoned, which is a requirement of the program. The remaining waste will be removed and taken to a facility. Engineers from H2M, a Melville-based company, explained some other specifications for the project that homeowners should be aware of.
The company will be knocking on doors for the next few weeks to begin inspections of properties that will ultimately inform their construction operation. Families may have already received a knock on their door, and appointments can be made via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Construction will be in tiers; officials said there would be no long-term inconvenience and that important entryways like driveways would not be blocked off. A control panel will be installed on every house and connected to the pump through underground wire. The panel is about 12 inches square and can be accessed similarly to water and electrical utility panels. Grinder pumps will be placed around the front yard, unless it becomes necessary for them to be placed behind the house, which will depend on the investigation by engineers. The hole for the pump will be about six to eight feet deep and will be isolated to allow easy access for maintenance.
During construction, engineers said they would work with property owners to avoid major structures such as pools, decks and landscaping. Workers will dig a linear trench to place pipes that run across the property to the hookup location. Pipes are approximately four to six inches thick, made of PVC.
In the case of power outages, a concern to some residents at the meeting, the village will dispatch a traveling generator to help power the sewer system. But officials said the system could handle reduced use for a couple of days without reaching maximum capacity. There are also options for homeowners to hook up private generators.
Engineers guaranteed that properties would be restored to their present condition after construction is complete. For maintenance, the village will take care of the system up to and including the grinder pump. The program includes two cleanings per year. The charge each year for operation and maintenance is $650. Pontieri said under his administration, that price would not go up. The electrical impact of the sewer system is approximately $20 to $30 per year for the average home.
This is not a mandatory program, and residents can opt out by contacting the village government. But Pontieri referred to this project as a “one-time offer” and that grant funding like this would not come around again.
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