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John M. Kennedy, Suffolk County Legislator
January 25, 2008 @ 12:00 am EST
Suffolk County Legislator John Kennedy spoke at LIMBA this morning. The topic was expanding the sewers systems in the county. Suffolk County aborted its efforts to create a comprehensive sewer system when the Southwest Sewer district was completed during the 70’s. There were many problems when that system was built and politicians were circumspect about opening up that can of worms. Now we are at an impasse, and we recognize the need to expand sewers.
Today we are dealing with the restrictions on growth that not having sewers imposes on us. It is not that sewers were not built since that time, but the sewers that were built were small. Now we have 22 sewer districts in Suffolk that do not connect to each other.
These systems have failed to meet the needs of commerce and industry. The limitations also dictate how housing can be constructed. Building houses on 2 acre plots, 1/2 acre plots, or even 1/4 plots, does not get you to the point where you can have "affordable housing" because the real estate is so valuable. Without adequate sewers we cannot achieve clustered, and therefore, affordable housing.
According to Mr. Kennedy we have to plan to tie those existing sewer districts together, upgrading them to tertiary status, and expanding them. This could be achieved under the auspices of a sewer authority, similar to how the Suffolk County Water Authority is organized.
The looming question we have now is, how do we finance an ambitious sewer plan? When the Southwest Sewer District was built, more than 90% was paid by the state and federal government. Presently we do not have that largess on which to rely.