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Letter: Cluster-Flush

I read “Will Sewers Save the Beach?” by Jill Nossa in the April 12, issue of the Record Pilot with great interest. It makes fascinating reading about a mucky subject. Thank you!

 

Last spring I visited Mayor Suozzi’s office to discuss the contamination of Crescent Beach. I was impressed to see that his office was at the hub of a multi-agency effort to reduce the pollution and reopen the beach.

 

Since that time I have communicated with NY Assemblyman Charles Lavine, Glen Cove City Councilman Anthony Gallo, and Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi. I learned that the problem is not an easy fix. There are seventy properties in the area around Crescent Beach that are not connected to Glen Cove’s sewer system. As Legislator DeRiggi explained to me, some of the larger and older properties have many old cesspools that have been inactive for years and some of the owners don’t even know where they are located. They may be leaching toxic waste and overflowing into LI Sound. 

 

Mayor Suozzi explained to me that he has been offering free pump-outs to these residents every year, at the City of Glen Cove tax payers’ expense. He reported that some homeowners refused the freebie and claimed it was a violation of their civil rights for the city to investigate their properties with intent to remedy derelict cesspools.

 

Now we are considering plans to hook up our sewer system to these 70 properties, assuming that all the property owners would allow it. It would ameliorate that portion of our problem to some great degree, that problem being the overflow of fecal human waste from active cell pools. But it would not reduce the biological hazard from uncounted overflowing and leaching systems on our larger properties and estates.

I commend our public officials and environmental groups for generating political will to reduce raw sewage contamination of Crescent Beach and reopen it for public recreation. But is hooking up these private properties to our public sewer system at taxpayer expense the right thing to do?

 

Paying just for the 70 properties in Glen Cove, has been estimated to cost $3.5 to$-5 million. The average cost would be $70,000 per property, and politicians suggest that it all be paid with taxpayer dollars.

An experienced septic engineer claimed that state of the art septic systems are much better than old cesspools. He claimed that they are even better than sewers and better than municipal waste treatment facilities like Glen Cove’s. Septic systems are best for cleaning up the waste and preventing pollution. They don’t require public investment and their cost to property owners would be about the same as a new roof, $5,000-$8,000. The entire project for 70 properties would cost $500,000. That is 10 percent of the cost to do a better job at solving the problem than the proposed sewer project. 

These proposals need to be analyzed and compared.

 

Glen Cove cannot seem to pay its bills without borrowing. Taxes are already too high and rising. It would seem that upgrading the septic systems would be a more prudent, efficient and environmentally friendly solution. 

State Assemblyman Charles Lavine advised me that a simple ordinance passed by the Glen Cove City Council might suffice to bring our 70 unconnected neighbors into compliance and prevent them from further polluting our public waters. It has already been done successfully with great savings in Connecticut.

 

Other water front communities sited in the article, Sea Cliff and Locust Valley might follow Glen Cove’s and Connecticut’s examples. A similar ordinance passed by Nassau County’s assembly could broaden the scope of the clean up. This would prevent more wasteful spending of taxpayers’ dollars and avoid further degradation of our public waters.

 

Steve Sloane