FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 21, 2010
SCHUMER: AFTER TWENTY YEARS OF EFFORT, EPA TO RELEASE $11 MILLION IN SEWER FUNDS OWED TO NASSAU COUNTY; SENATOR PUT FULL COURT PRESS ON EPA TO RELEASE DOLLARS TO FIX LEAK AT REYNOLDS CHANNEL AND FOR INFRASTRUCTURE UPGRADES
Schumer: Nassau County Was Awarded Sewer Grants in 1980s, Did the Work, and Was Never Reimbursed by EPA; Release of Federal Dollars
Will Help Ensure Taxpayers Don't Have to Continue Picking Up The Costs
Reimbursement Will Provide Taxpayers With Sorely Needed Sewer Infrastructure Improvements and Fix Leak at Reynolds Channel
Schumer: After Twenty Years of Effort, the Long-Overdue Check for Nassau Taxpayers Is, Finally, in the Mail
Today, United States Senator Charles E. Schumer, announced that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing $11 million worth of grant money awarded to Nassau County in the mid-1980s which was never disbursed. The $11 million is being awarded under a now defunct EPA Sewer Infrastructure program for multi-million dollar upgrades to the Cedar Creek and Bay Park wastewater treatment plants that Nassau financed over two decades ago. While the County did the work, reimbursement of $20 million from the EPA never came, forcing Nassau taxpayers picked up the cost.
“After years of pressing the EPA to release these funds, the check for Nassau ratepayers is, finally, in the mail,” said Schumer. “These funds will be used to address major sewer infrastructure issues and will provide the county with long-overdue resources to address urgent problems like the leak at Reynolds Channel.”
"Thanks to Senator Schumer's years of hard work, Nassau taxpayers are finally getting paid back what they are owed,” said County Executive Edward Mangano. “This vital funding will allow us to immediately improve the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant and other County infrastructure that crumbled due to neglect over the past decade. Today's announcement is a testament to how hard Senator Schumer and I work for Nassau taxpayers together."
In total the EPA awarded grants totaling more than $20 million to the County: $7.5 million towards upgrading and expanding the wastewater treatment operations in Nassau County; $12 million for architectural and engineering fees, and $2 million for sewer piping. Though EPA Region 2, which covers the Long Island region, has issued an opinion that the county should be reimbursed, those funds had never been released.
In May, Schumer, met with County Executive Edward Mangano and other officials to press Administrator Lisa Jackson to conduct a top-to-bottom review of these decades-old grant awards for Nassau County to have approvals for their release granted. Though the EPA agreed to re-open negotiations with the County the agency had still not released the funds as of November. In the face of continued delays and the environmental disaster at Reynolds Channel, Schumer last month pressed the EPA to expedite its review.
The $11 million in reimbursement being released by the EPA will be used for critical infrastructure upgrades at the Bay Park Treatment Plant to fix the illegal discharge problem in Reynolds Channel. These funds will allow Nassau County to go forward with these needed improvements without further burdening already stretched taxpayers.
“Nassau County did what it was supposed to do and I am pleased that the EPA has finally started living up to its end of the bargain,” continued Schumer. “I will continue to press the agency to meet its full obligation to the county and release the remaining $9 million that taxpayers have been more than patient waiting for.”