County celebrates Forge River wastewater treatment plant groundbreaking

Sewer project to connect nearly 1,900 homes

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On Thursday, Jan. 27, Gov. Kathy Hochul and Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone announced the groundbreaking of the $223.9 million Forge River Watershed Sewer District project, designed to reduce nitrogen loading and improve water quality for homeowners and businesses, located in the Mastic-Shirley area.

The Forge River Watershed Sewer District boundaries extend from just west of the William Floyd Parkway, east to the Forge River and just south of Sunrise Highway; on the north to Poospatuck Creek and to the south, not including the Poospatuck Indian Reservation.

“Today’s groundbreaking enables us to write a new, positive, environmental and economic chapter for our communities.  It is the collective work product of so many whom deserve credit, including all the levels of government who worked cooperatively,” Suffolk County Legis. Jim Mazzarella said. “Ultimately, the residents who voted to invest in their community are those who are truly deserving of thanks. I am proud to represent the 3rd Legislative District and I am honored to see this project to fruition.  It is truly a great and historic day for the tri-hamlet community.”

Once completed, a new wastewater treatment plant in Mastic, Town of Brookhaven, will serve nearly 1,900 parcels in the nearby Shirley-Mastic area. This project is part of the $408.8 million Suffolk County Coastal Resiliency Initiative announced last fall.

“Superstorm Sandy exposed the need to further protect our coastline communities on Long Island from the impact of climate change,” Gov. Hochul said. “Today’s groundbreaking marks a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to build resiliency. Everyone deserves easy access to safe water, and this project will help improve water quality for Suffolk County residents, reduce harmful pollutants, and further protect Long Island’s delicate coastal ecosystem so that it can better withstand more intense storms in the future.”

In October, Hochul announced the start of construction on the $408.8 million storm resiliency sewer expansion in Suffolk County. The Suffolk County Coastal Resiliency Initiative includes wastewater conveyance and treatment upgrades along with sewer system connections for more than 4,000 parcels in the Town of Babylon, with connections for an additional 1,900 parcels in Mastic-Shirley. This innovative project leverages federal and state resources with local funding to prevent nitrogen and other contaminants from polluting Long Island’s coastal waters. Other environmental benefits to this critical project include improving water quality, restoring ecosystems, and bolstering natural coastal barriers to protect communities from future flooding and severe storms.

“Today we break ground on a historic sewer project that will both improve water quality in the Forge River and attract new investment to the Mastic community,” Bellone said. “This successful effort is the result of a true working partnership between the federal, state and local governments, and we look forward to building on these efforts by expanding the new sewer system to include more of the Mastic-Shirley community.”

Thousands of homes in the Carlls River and Forge River watersheds are unsewered and manage wastewater via on-site systems like septic tanks and cesspools. The outdated septic tanks and cesspools are prone to capacity failure, as residents frequently need to limit household tasks such as dishwashing and laundry. The wastewater systems also cause ecological harm to the waterways, as untreated sewage can inundate the watersheds with nitrogen and other harmful pollutants, and result in coastal ecosystem degradation.

“The water quality of the Forge River has been a point of concern for many years, and I am pleased that the problem will now be addressed and not just talked about. This sewer district will provide some of the positive environmental and economic assistance that our area needs and should provide relief for some homeowners who pay exorbitant sums to try and maintain failing systems,” said Brookhaven Town supervisor Ed Romaine. “Brookhaven and Suffolk County have worked together with New York State to make this long-planned sewer district a reality that will be a benefit to the environment and the residents of the tri-hamlet community.”

Through the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSES) and Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR), these projects leverage $243.5 million of Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and $66.4 million of Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding from US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). DHSES will manage the entire project to ensure FEMA eligibility until all components, including Forge River are complete.

The Carlls River project is anticipated to be completed in 2024, with Forge River to follow in 2026.

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