The Suffolk County Department of Public Works helds it third, and final, public meeting on the Southwest Sewer District Service Area Expansion Project, reviewing its findings from its last review.
Representatives from the SCDPW said the most feasible and cost-effective idea was to work on funding a project to areas in most need - many of which have a low watertable where backed-up sewage from cesspools could contaminate the single groundwater aquifer for Long Island.
A single area of North Babylon, coded 108-2 by the SCDPW, would be considered the single top subarea to receive sewers in the near future.
A presentation at the October 10 meeting stated a random home picked in the area with a home value of $392,500 and three bedrooms and two bathrooms in a split-level would expect to pay an additional $1,319 a year compared to an estimate $600 maintenance fees on current cesspools if the plan went through under a "best-case scenario."
The "best case" plan would be, according to representatives, a 30-year bond at two percent interest and 80 percent of the project's funding coming from federal, state or local sources.
A previous meeting stated the cost for the project could range from $900 million to more than $2 billion.
Local representatives and residents both noted the increase in taxes wouldn't be doable for those living in the area.
"The jawdrop was understandable," said Legislator and Deputy Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature Wayne Horsley (D, Babylon), noting the reaction to the cost estimates at the last meeting.
"Times are tough. We have been, as a county, looking for alternative ways to fund this. We're working with Executive Steve Bellone and fellow legislators. The idea right now is only half-cooked. We're looking to see what synergies there can be between Suffolk County and Suffolk Water Authority," he continued.
"If we don’t get the funding, then we just don’t go forward," said Suffolk County Legislator Lou D'Amaro (D–North Babylon). "Suffolk County won't pay for it. Without 80 percent funding I don't see how this goes foward."
Residents were concerned the meetings would go ahead with making the sewer a reality. However, a referendum would have to be held for the areas selected. The residents in theses area will have a final say by voting about whether their area receives the sewer system expansion.
"You won't get a sewer system without a say," promised D'Amaro. "Not while I’m sitting here."
"My hope is by next year we should have some positive results coming from meetings in finding a way to make this doable," said Horsley. "Two billion dollars isn't doable, and we all know it. If we can find a better funding source to manage this, then we might have a good shot."
He added, "This can be done. There's an answer."
For more information from the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, visit the Southwest Suffolk Sewers website with detailed information, maps and more.
- Third Sewer Expansion Meeting Is Set for October 10
- Deadline Is August 24 to Comment on County's Sewer Feasibility Study
- Suffolk Notebook: Sewer Consolidation Explored
- Sewer Study Finds Extensions Could Top $2 Billion
- Local Officials and Residents React to Sewer Feasibility Findings