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Gillibrand, Schumer, King, Israel, Bishop Urge FEMA to Award Disaster Funding for Suffolk County to Make Needed Upgrades to Bergen Point Outfall Pipe

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Pipeline that runs from Suffolk County’s largest sewage treatment plant deteriorating, extremely vulnerable to weather hazards.

Washington, DC - February 7, 2014 - U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Charles Schumer, and Congressmen Pete King, Steve Israel, and Tim Bishop today urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to back Suffolk County’s application for federal disaster funding through the agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) to help make critical infrastructure upgrades to the county’s largest sewage treatment plant. The Bergen Point Sewage Treatment Plant’s (STP) ocean outfall pipeline, which spans over thirty-thousand feet long and serves approximately 120,000 Long Island households, has shown substantial signs of deterioration, including hundreds of breaks in high-tension wires that keep the concrete surrounding the pipe intact.  More than one year after Superstorm Sandy and after back-to-back winter storms this year, lawmakers pointed out that the steel pipe is extremely vulnerable to future weather hazards and catastrophic damage could occur if the pipe were to leak or collapse.
 
“As we learn the lessons of Superstorm Sandy, we must develop a storm-resilient strategy to ensure that Suffolk County is armed with resources to upgrade wastewater treatment plants, protect communities from future disasters, and keep our families safe,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I urge FEMA to immediately grant Suffolk County the federal funding necessary to help replace Bergen Point STP’s deteriorating pipeline that could harm Great South Bay and hundreds of thousands of Long Island families.” 
 
“The effect of years of wear and tear, as well as extreme storms and winter weather, has taken a significant toll on the Bergen Point Sewage Treatment Plant,” said Senator Schumer. “Without vital repair work and upgrades to the plant’s outfall pipeline, over 100,000 Long Islanders could be at risk of losing this vital piece of infrastructure without warning. When we wrote the Sandy Bill, we included a program designed to make our infrastructure more resistant to Superstorms and other extreme weather events, and this is exactly the type of project we had in mind.”
 
“Superstorm Sandy unfortunately showed us just how vulnerable our infrastructure is,” said Congressman King. “It is imperative that FEMA provide funding to Suffolk County to make critical upgrades to our wastewater infrastructure to mitigate any future disasters.”
 
“It is critical that our sewage infrastructure is able to withstand future storms, and that’s why I’m urging FEMA to award the disaster funding necessary to help replace Bergen Point STP’s deteriorating pipeline,” saidCongressman Israel. “This pipeline serves parts of the Huntington community, and we must ensure that it is able to function properly moving forward.”
 
“As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I understand the importance of improving Long Island's aging infrastructure,” said Congressman Bishop. “Although we still have work to do, we have made great progress over the last decade and we cannot move backwards. I urge FEMA to award this grant to Suffolk County for much-needed upgrades to the Bergen Point Outfall Pipe.”
 
“A failure in the Bergen Point outflow pipe would be catastrophic for our region’s water quality and the 120,000 households who rely on this piece of critical infrastructure,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.  “I am grateful to Suffolk County’s federal delegation for their strong leadership to make sure FEMA provides us with the funds we need to rebuild our region stronger in the aftermath of Sandy.”
 
Bergen Point STP is Suffolk County’s largest sewage treatment plant and serves 120,000 households throughout two townships. The plant’s ocean outfall pipe is over thirty-thousand feet long and runs under the Great South Bay, New York State’s largest shallow estuarine bay. While the plant was not compromised during the tidal surges of Superstorm Sandy, as other plants in the region were, the potential damage to the South Shore Estuary Reserve and effects on homeowners would be very severe should the pipe break. 
 
Under the Hazard Mitigation Program, Suffolk County would begin a major infrastructure overhaul that will address multiple vulnerabilities within the plant and outfall pipe. Federal funding from through the New York State Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Service’s Hazard Mitigation Grant would help Suffolk County address some of the most outstanding weather susceptibilities and would go towards making critical infrastructure upgrades, strengthening the County’s resiliency to future storms and weather hazards.
 
Full text of the letter is below:
 
Dear Mr. Fugate,
 
We write in support of Suffolk County’s application for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. This funding will help Suffolk County make much needed improvements to its wastewater infrastructure, specifically Bergen Point Sewage Treatment Plant (STP).
 
Bergen Point STP is Suffolk County’s largest sewage treatment plant and serves 120,000 households throughout two townships. The plant’s ocean outfall pipe is over thirty-thousand feet long and runs under the Great South Bay, New York State’s largest shallow estuarine bay. This aging plant has been treating wastewater throughout Suffolk County since 1980. In recent years, the outfall pipe has shown substantial signs of deterioration, including hundreds of breaks in high-tension wires that keep the concrete surrounding the pipe intact. When enough of these wires break, the collapse of the pipe will be catastrophic. While the plant was not compromised during the tidal surges of Superstorm Sandy, as other plants in the region were, the outfall pipe is still extremely vulnerable to weather events. Should this outfall pipe fail, leak or worse, the potential damage to the South Shore Estuary Reserve and effects on homeowners would be very severe.
 
Under the Hazard Mitigation Program, Suffolk County will begin a major infrastructure overhaul that will address multiple vulnerabilities within the plant and outfall pipe. Although Suffolk County has continually worked to address their aging infrastructure, assistance with funding from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant would greatly help address some of the most outstanding weather susceptibilities. This support will help critical infrastructure upgrades making the County and its residents more resilient to future storms and weather hazards.
 
We ask that you please give this application your full consideration.  If you have any questions, or desire further information, please do not hesitate to contact our staff members.
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