The Proposed Bay Park Ocean Outfall Pipe. What are your thoughts?

Bay Park Wastewater Treatment Plant was so badly damaged from Sandy, it was offline for days with raw sewage being dumped into our bay. Obviously something needs to be done to prevent this from happening again. While FEMA gives us dribs and drabs of money for a quick band-aid, Governor Cuomo is seeking major federal money for a 3-mile ocean outfall pipe that will go straight through Long Beach and pump this waste right into our ocean.

Other NY politicians are behind outfall pipe, such as Senator Charles Schumer and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who unsuccessfully tried to privatize the plant, was quoted calling the outflow pipe project to be “the single most important thing we can do to protect homeowners and the environment.”  

THREE EYED FISH BLINKY 2Yes, fixing Bay Park is vital to the protection of our marshlands and bay water quality, but do we really want to pump chemically treated waste into our waters? Whenever I think of chemically treated water, I think of that three-eye fish from the Simpsons. I am not sure what the impact chemicals have on our sea life, but it can’t be good (and we eat it!).

There is another option that is being ignored: Recycling the water and/or injecting it back into our aquifer. Long Beach resident Larry Moriarty of Surfrider says this method works elsewhere, he doesn’t understand why it’s not being considered here. One example is in Orange County, CA; The Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS):

The Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) takes highly treated wastewater that would have previously been discharged into the Pacific Ocean and purifies it using a three-step advanced treatment process consisting of microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light with hydrogen peroxide. The process produces high-quality water that exceeds all state and federal drinking water standards. (source – http://www.gwrsystem.com/about-gwrs.html)

I don’t know about you, but clean, replenished water sound so much better than chemically treated water. Why isn’t this being considered here? Is it a complete oversight of our leaders? Because the ocean outfall pipe sounds like it could be a complete mess. Please chime in with your thoughts and opinions.
(Thanks Amanda for your help!)

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11 thoughts on “The Proposed Bay Park Ocean Outfall Pipe. What are your thoughts?”

  1. As a person who works in that industry, I feel that the outfall pipe is the best solution. This will send treated sewage away from the bay and directly into the ocean and during weather events it will save the bay from partially treated sewage. As far as chemically treated Wastewater, in my location we use a form of chlorine in amounts that are regulated by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. The Wastewater discharged from these plants is generally cleaner than the water it feeds into.

  2. Thanks for your insight Andrew, but I am not sold on chlorine. More and more studies are showing the dangers of it, as the EPA will tell you
    Chlorine is especially harmful to organisms living in water and in soil.
    http://www.epa.gov/chemfact/f_chlori.txt

    Even if it’s a “safe” dose, I’d rather not have any in the water at all. That’s just my personal feeling.

  3. I agree with you! And so does the NYS DEC. They are making strides to reduce the use of chlorine by limiting the residual chlorine limits in the plants effluent. The new talks of reducing or eliminating the chlorine is to de-chlorinate before releasing the treated Wastewater to the receiving waters. The only real problem with that is the enormous cost to expand the already mostly underfunded plants to include de-chlorination. Sadly the addition of yet another chemical, Sodium Bisulfite, is used to de-chlorinate. One day we’ll get it right!

  4. Well first of all this treated water is being dumped into the ocean anyway. It just goes through the bays first destroying the habitat there. All the nitrogen in the water has caused the seaweed to blossom while choking off the eel grass that was an important part of the ecosystem of the bay. It sheltered crabs, immature fish and a host of other species. I can’t recall the last patch of eel grass I saw in Reynolds channel or the surrounding bays. I haven’t seen any in years. Dumping the effluent directly into the ocean will allow it be diluted faster and over a wider area. Its like running a garden hose into a swimming pool or running it into a bathtub.

  5. This in a no brainer. The outfall pipe has no place in the channel. You can treat that water to drink, but should we? I think it’s highly impractical and probably not necessary. Chlorine? Doesn’t it dissipate/evaporate in your glass after a few hours?

  6. Dannyboy, with the potential threat to future drinking water supplies (not for our generation necessarily, but down the road), can you expand a little on why you think it would be unnecessary to even consider a re-use plan? I get the “lets get this out of the channel” rally cry, but why not recycling or aquifer refilling?

  7. As was mentioned earlier tertiary treatment can restore this waste to drinking water standards. This is a valuable resource and should not just be squandered by dumping it in the ocean where it does no good and does not belong.

    One thing we should keep in mind is that Reynold’s Channel and the surrounding waterways and marshlands are an estuarine ecosystem which depends on fresh water inputs. We are rapidly pumping water out of the ground and most of our natural rivers and streams have been blocked and impounded. Moving this outfall pipe is going to remove the largest source of fresh water into our bay.

    Almost all the species we care about; the shellfish, crabs, marsh grasses, bait fish all depend on having low salinity water.

    So if you think the outfall pipe is killing the bay, just wait until you see what happens after we remove it!

  8. Think about it. Most of the water that would naturally enter the bay either underground or through rivers and streams has been diverted into our homes, into our sinks, showers, and toilets. However, Its not wasted, because it eventually all returns to the bay through the Reynolds Channel outfall.

    So.. why don’t we take advantage of this resource. Add a tertiary system to recycle the water. And use the fresh water to restore a local stream.

    In our bay we have Blue Back Herring, American Eels, Atlantic Sturgeon, Stripped Bass. All of these fish spawn in brackish streams and rivers. We could potentially use this source of fresh water to recreate new spawning and nursery habitat in streams that have been nearly been destroyed by urbanization. Check out Mill River just East of the Bay Park Plant.

  9. My reservations come from recalling the days when NYC dumped its garbage off the shore from garbage barges. We could watch the barges go out past the horizon. Unfortunately, a fair percentage of the garbage would wash back ashore on our beach. We could see solid waste such as styrofoam cups, scraps of wooden things, and for a while condoms and needles. If this solid waste would wash back in, liquid waste surely would, unless this pipeline is going out many miles. On the other hand, the garbage barges brought us some nice things, like lots of beach glass and plentiful shellfish along the beach. I don’t think this liquid sewage would even bring us that. And when condoms washed ashore, you could step around them. We’ll be swimming in this stuff. I think Mangano’s encouraging any fix the Feds propose because he’s making out like a bandit. That plant malfunctioned so often because the County “deferred” fixing it to save money. Mangano is one of those lucky few whose negligence let them benefit from Sandy money.

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