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Wayne Horsley, Suffolk Legislator

May 4, 2007 @ 12:00 am EDT


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On May 4th, we had the privilege of Suffolk County Legislator Wayne Horsley give us a perspective of how important sewers are to the ecology and economic growth of Long Island.  Wayne apologized for picking such an unsavory topic to be the subject of a breakfast meeting, but as usual, the large crowd of LIMBA faithful ate it up.  With his perspective as an adjunct professor of Modern World History at St. John’s university, we got some ancient history as well.  The earliest known sewers were found in the Indus valley, around 3300-1700 BC, but Suffolk County still is not widely sewered in this modern age.  To preserve the open space that is left by concentrating development, we need sewers.  The recent development of the Route 110 corridor’s new hotel and pharmaceutical plants would not have been possible without connecting them to the Southwest Sewer District.

There are 1.5 Million people in Suffolk County, 400,000 of them are served with sewers.  This is distributed among the Southwest Sewer District (SWSD), and about 22 other smaller plants sprinkled around the county.  The new Tanger retail development in Deer Park, on the old AIL Property, will be connected to the SWSD, consuming .5% of the total daily capacity of 30.5 million gallons.  The development is expected to generate 250 million in spending by completion.  Without the district connection the development would not be possible at all.  The benefits of sewering are clear, so are the obstacles.
Money is the foremost barrier.  Sewers are expensive and disruptive to put in.  Back in the day, 87% of the projects were funded by the State and Federal governments.  Plus, the history of corruption that is one of the legacies of the SWSD is always present when you talk about sewers on Long Island.  The total cost to build the district was over a billion dollars, but the district is functioning well today.  To overcome the stigma of sewers, Wayne is forming a “Sewer Club” with Mark Herbst of the Long Island Contractors Association to help Long Island learn to love sewers.
Wayne closed with a short discussion on the issue of Coal Gas Plant cleanups, the addressing of which he is trying to make a condition of the National Grid/Keyspan merger process.  Vincent Frigeria of Keyspan gave us some details on the work that is being done to clean up the Clinton Avenue site in Bay Shore.

The Q & A session was fruitful, touching on “What else can we bury, along with the sewer lines?”  “What are the treatment plant siting issues?”, and “How do we focus on the ecological benefits, rather than the history of corruption?”  An altogether appetizing session about an unsavory subject.  Another well-spent Friday morning at LIMBA.