Governor Cuomo Announces $388 Million in Funding for Critical Coastal Resiliency and Sewer Expansion Project in Suffolk County

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $388 million in State and federal funding to expand sanitary sewer service to 8,075 parcels of land in Suffolk County which currently utilize on-site septic systems.

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Suffolk County, NY - September 13, 2015 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $388 million in State and federal funding to expand sanitary sewer service to 8,075 parcels of land in Suffolk County which currently utilize on-site septic systems. This project, which has been approved the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, represents the first step in instituting extensive measures to mitigate flooding and septic system failure in Suffolk County caused by Superstorm Sandy

“Long Islanders have seen first-hand and up-close the damage that Mother Nature can inflict on a community and its ability to provide vital service for its residents," Governor Cuomo said. "This funding allows Suffolk County to improve and expand its sewer system in a way that not only reduces threats to water quality and contamination, but also strengthen Long Island's coast to better withstand future storms."

This initial design and environmental review phase of the project will be financed through $24.2 million in funding from New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation's State Revolving Fund and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery Program. Both entities, along with the federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, will fund the $364.3 million construction phase as well. 

More than 70 percent of Suffolk County’s 1.5 million residents lack connections to advanced wastewater treatment infrastructure and instead rely on on-site septic systems. During Superstorm Sandy, many such systems were flooded by rising groundwater, which not only created public health hazards like water contamination and nitrogen pollution from failing septic systems and cesspools, but also caused the erosion of the coastal wetlands, which have been scientifically proven to reduce vulnerability from storm surge, to the point of failure. This project allows Suffolk County to address these important issues and further bolster coastal resiliency on Long Island. 

During Phase I, the County will develop a detailed Scope of Work, cost estimates and schedule, detailed plans, technical specifications and a final benefit-cost analysis. Following the successful completion of Phase I, Suffolk County will construct new collection systems in the Carlls River, Connetquot River and Patchogue River watershed areas, thereby connecting 3,494 residential, 71 commercial and 184 non-vacant parcels to existing water conveyances and treatment systems. 

Additionally, a new water collection and conveyance system will be built in the Forge River watershed, linking 1,815 residential, 205 commercial and 74 non-vacant parcels to a new wastewater treatment plant to be built on the site of Calabro Airport. Service laterals connecting 2,232 residential parcels in the southwest Suffolk County's Sewer District #3 will also be installed to existing systems terminating at the Bergen Point Wastewater Treatment Plan.

Locations were selected based on critical areas with dense populations, in which existing depth to groundwater and travel time to a receiving body of water will yield the maximum benefits of coastal protection. 

Senator Charles E. Schumer said: “Superstorm Sandy revealed just how vulnerable Suffolk County residents are to flooding and contamination. We asked FEMA and HUD to provide over $300 million in federal funds to help with the Suffolk sewers and I am glad now that the state is releasing the money. Now these federal funds will build a modern sewage infrastructure that will directly benefit many Suffolk residents, which will improve water quality, preserve vital wetlands and make Suffolk more resistant if, God forbid, another Sandy occurs.”

Congressman Lee Zeldin said: “This is an enormously important initiative to upgrade infrastructure in a corner of our state and nation that I am proud to represent and call home. I look forward to working closely with Governor Cuomo on this key effort. Formerly as a New York State Senator representing this targeted area while a member of the New York State Senate's Transportation Committee, and now as a member of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I am especially proud and committed to provide whatever support possible to assist. This project will greatly improve our environment, economy, and overall quality of life."

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said: “This federal funding, in conjunction with state funds, will enable coastal communities most impacted by Superstorm Sandy to be better protected and prepared. As we all discovered in the aftermath of this devastating storm, there were significant weaknesses identified with our local infrastructure. These critically needed improvement projects will help to address those deficiencies and enable our region to be better prepared and recover from natural disasters in the future.”

Senator Tom Croci said: “We must make continuous efforts to address the vulnerability of our critical infrastructure and invest the time and money to protect our communities from severe weather events. The commitment and collaboration of state and federal agencies, along with local government to ensure the development of a resilient, sanitary sewage system for Suffolk County is smart, forward –thinking, and a commendable investment of resources, which will fundamentally improve and protect the environment and quality of life in our community.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said: “I appreciate Governor Cuomo’s constant support of our region as we continue to rebuild, and am encouraged that FEMA has approved an initial round of funding to get these projects up and running. Suffolk County saw firsthand how devastating extreme weather can be in Superstorm Sandy. With that in mind, we are continuing to build back from that damage and make our infrastructure more resilient for the future. Suffolk County is engaged in a series of actions that will bolster coastal resiliency against future storms. By strengthening our wastewater treatment facilities and reducing harmful nitrogen pollution, we can improve water quality on Long Island and ultimately create safer communities for our residents."

Interim Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery Lisa Bova-Hiatt said: “When Sandy struck our region in October 2012, the storm also brought to light many significant vulnerabilities related to our State’s critical infrastructure. The approval of this federal funding marks a significant step forward, as we continue to apply lessons learned from recent storms and implement a range of mitigation measures to protect our region’s precious water supply, and the New Yorkers who utilize it.”

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner Jamie Rubin said: “The $388 million Coastal Resiliency initiative announced today, will not only assist homeowners and businesses in Suffolk County become connected to waste water systems, it will over time allow the county’s natural resources, marshes and barrier islands to be restored and once again become the first line of defense in protecting communities. Importantly, this will also restore a once vibrant and identifying oyster fishery, providing economic opportunity and resiliency for the area.”

New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation President and CEO Sabrina Ty said: "New York State is committed to working with local governments to build back better and stronger from Superstorm Sand. With this major investment, we are assisting Suffolk County in strengthening long-term resiliency against future storms while protecting Long Island’s residents and water supplies."

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner John P. Melville said: “Protecting critical infrastructure now will enable communities affected by a disaster to recover faster. By taking action now, we can proactively upgrade and enhance access to our state’s water supply and continue the Governor’s mission to strengthen its infrastructure before the next major storm hits.”

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman said: “There is a strong, scientifically recognized, connection between efforts to improve water quality and wetland health, and improved resiliency to protect Long Islanders from coastal storms. FEMA’s endorsement of Governor Cuomo’s initiative in Suffolk County is an important recognition of a major innovation: that enhancing the natural environment often directly enhances the resiliency of our communities.” 

About the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
In June 2013, Governor Cuomo issued a call for federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program eligible projects that could assist local governments and non-profits to rebuild stronger, more sustainable communities. Authorized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and administered by the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery and the New York State Department of Homeland Security, the program aims to boost resiliency, mitigate the risks of loss and damage associated with future disasters and reduce hardship.

The federal agency provides 75 percent reimbursement of eligible costs, up to the amount of the award. Local entities may use in-kind services or materials to satisfy the 25 percent non-federal match; however, to off-set the financial burden of many municipal projects, Governor Cuomo has committed the State's disaster recovery resources to cover the remaining portion. Through this action, the State will help Suffolk County to leverage existing resources and maximize the assistance being received. 

Following a Presidential Disaster Declaration, as in the case of Superstorm Sandy, the federal government provides Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds for states to administer grant programs that support local hazard mitigation planning and long-term mitigation measures.

About the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery
Established in June 2013, the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery coordinates Statewide recovery efforts for Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Through its NY Rising Programs, the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery invests $4.4 billion made available through United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery Program to better prepare New York for future extreme weather events.