In the U.S. there are nearly 16,000 wastewater systems that prevent water pollution by taking in municipal sewage, treating it, and returning it to its natural state. A marvel of the Clean Water Act of 1972, our nation committed to cleaning, preserving and safeguarding its waterways and the aquatic life that depends on them while maintaining an advanced public health system that is of envy to many parts of the world – where 2.4 billion people lack access to sanitation.
Indeed during this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, tourists were warned of polluted beaches as only 40% of Rio de Janero’s sewage is treated; the rest is dumped and left to decompose in oceans and lagoons.
Aside from the “yuck” factor – anyone who lives near a beach town knows that beach closures can send beach-goers running and long-term pollution can destroy local economies.
It’s no wonder that after Hurricane Sandy hit Long Island and the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant failed to treat tens of millions of gallons of sewage before dumping it into the Western Bays on Nassau County’s South Shore – a coalition of citizen activists, environmental leaders and elected officials decided that it was time to tackle this environmental problem in a serious way.
First, Federal, State, County and local elected leaders from New York and Nassau County worked to secure over $800 million in funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to upgrade the plant which is part of a system that treats the sewage of 1.2 million residents of densely populated Nassau County.
Then, County Executive Ed Mangano selected United Water – based on our global expertise and wealth of local resources – to professionally operate the County sewer system through the upgrades and 20 years into the future.
The partnership is the largest public-private partnership to date in the United States. It was formed at the behest of the community to dramatically improve the County’s ability to protect the environment and the health and well-being of Nassau County residents.
Alongside the County, we will deliver unprecedented advances in environmental protection from nitrogen removal to marshland protection to the establishment of a new park. Additional benefits will include odor control, management efficiencies, plant aesthetics and public information.
It will take some time to make all the improvements we’re planning, but in the end, we will create a state-of-the-art, resilient public service which Nassau County can rely upon and will secure a resourceful future for this important suburb of New York City.