Northport village has received a $1.5 million grant to fund federally mandated upgrades to its 83-year-old sewage treatment plant that has been blamed for causing red tide in Northport and Centerport harbors.
Local lawmakers and environmentalists touted the New York State funding that will go toward an estimated $10-million renovation project that the Environmental Protection Agency has required be completed by 2014, although it is unclear if Suffolk County will fund the rest.
“Our water quality has been a significant issue in Northport, and upgrading our sewer treatment facility is a big piece of the puzzle,” Suffolk County Legis. Dr. William Spencer (D-Centerport) said Thursday during a news conference at Huntington Town Hall.
Officials hope that the village will qualify for Suffolk County sewage infrastructure funding to complete the project, which comes as the county has been working to hook up more communities to sewage systems and Nassau County has been working on emergency repairs to the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, which failed during Sandy, flooding nearby waterways with sewage.
“There is no greater responsibility of government then protecting the health and safety of the community,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment, noting that more than $150 million worth of projects applied for the county funding, which means not all work will be selected.
“Let’s face it,” Esposito said, “the bays and harbors are at the heart of the Huntington and Northport communities, and they are also a part of the economy of those communities, so their restoration is critical to our quality of life.”
The village sewage plant, built in 1930, still has some of the original infrastructure. The money will go toward nitrogen filters, which will reduce the amount of nitrogen that feed dangerous algal blooms behind the red tides in the harbors.
The reoccurring problem of red tide has forced the town to close beaches, clam beds and has drastically taken a toll on fishing season because of contaminants in the fish poses a threat to the health of consumers.