In November of last year, the Town of Islip, NY commissioned P.W. Grosser Consulting, Inc. (“PWGC”) to conduct a sewer feasibility study of the southeastern portion of Islip, and we’re close to wrapping it up.
The aim is to determine the feasibility of developing a new sewer district for the area and all of the infrastructure improvements that would entail.
The hamlets in the southeastern district, which extends from Bayport to the east to Great River to the west, currently use individual septic systems for sewage management. Many of these areas are prone to septic system failure. Excess nitrogen from unsewered housing was among the causes that caused the Great South Bay to be listed among the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s list of impaired water bodies since 2008, which has obvious consequences for the area’s commercial and recreational viability. The issues facing southeastern Islip are common as unsewered housing accounts for roughly 70 percent of the population of Suffolk County.
“By law, property owners face limits to development based on pre-existing sewer systems. These antiquated individual septic systems hinder the ability of homeowners and businesses to expand and innovate, which has a long-term detrimental effect on local economies. Environmental safety considerations are also being taken into account, given the proximity of these communities to the Great South Bay and the strain that population growth could place on the existing septic arrangements.”
Special attention has to be paid to those areas with on-site sanitary systems in high-groundwater and low-lying areas that are prone to flooding. Septic system are designed to reduce contaminant concentrations – but they fail to do so when they’re flooded or submerged. The low water table in the Oakdale and Sayville communities makes them one of the top 10 areas in New York State targeted for sewer development.
Part of PWGC’s work with this project includes surveying the details of public and private sewage plants in other locations and determining what scenarios could work for Islip. Our role is to provide an exhaustive guideline for government officials, outlining the steps that would be involved in creating a modern, environmentally-conscious sewer district, and the associated costs with any possible plans. The Suffolk County Department of Public Works has asked that this study be used as a planning tool for future sewage engineering studies and projects in the area.
Potential benefits of new sewerage in this area include improved coastal water quality in the Great South Bay (improving recreation as well as the seafood harvest) and the facilitation of local business expansion without further jeopardizing natural resources. It’s also hoped that the community will see increased real estate value as a result of all this.
The sewer study was spearheaded by long-time sewer advocate New York State Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino, who was key in securing the funding for the study, and Islip Town Councilman Anthony S. Senft, Jr. and. In a statement, Senft said that the town is taking both environmental impact and business development into consideration:
“This is the first step in a process that will help the Town determine if a sewage treatment plant is in fact feasible, and allows us to closely examine the costs, benefits and what a sewage treatment plant could mean for business owners, residents, and the environment. Sewers are essential to a clean environment and to restore our natural ecosystem, but also critical to foster the economic health of our downtowns. Oftentimes, our local businesses cannot grow, expand, or sometimes even make a profit, if sewer capacity is not readily available to them.”
Recently, the town held a public forum on the much-discussed question of the possible implementation of a sewer district. The event was well-attended, and PWGC was there to share our progress and get feedback from the community. Paul Grosser, PhD, PE and President of PWGC, discussed the need for the upgraded sewer systems and cited several of the benefits that the sewers could bring to the downtown areas in the Great South Bay.