Sewer rally this Sunday

File photo.

Sewer rally this Sunday

Story By: RICK CHALIFOUX
4/14/2016


ISLIP TOWN—This Sunday, April 17, local nonprofit organization Save the Great South Bay is holding a rally at St. John’s campus in Oakdale at noon. The goal is to call upon Suffolk County to reroute the sewer line south from Ronkonkoma through Sayville, West Sayville and Oakdale.

Save the Great South Bay is dedicated to the revitalization of the 45-mile-long body of water located between the South Shore and Fire Island. The group is calling for state and county officials to help secure funding to install “much needed” sewers for the communities of Sayville, West Sayville and Oakdale. 

So far, 1,100 signatures have also been collected for an official petition to bring sewers to those low-lying areas. The petition states that sewers would serve as a valuable investment in the region by helping to revitalize the fishing and shellfishing industry, enhance water and beach recreation, bring more summer tourists, and raise property values.

“Do it for the bay, do it for our oystermen and the future of shellfishing on the bay. Do it for the fishermen, for the paddleboarders, for swimming, for a healthy bay today and for generations to come!” read a statement promoting Sunday’s rally.

Executive Director Marshall Brown noted that pollutants stemming from septic pools and fertilizers regularly make their way towards the bay, elevating nitrogen levels and having a severely negative impact on water quality and marine life. He stated that better water quality would allow for much greater amounts oysters and clams to be reintroduced to the bay.

“If we sewer along the water from Sayville to Oakdale towards Great River, then we can start to see oyster beds reopened,” said Brown, who grew up in Sayville. “The economic boom would be extraordinary. There are a lot of people ready to hop in and get to work.”

Longtime Oakdale resident Richard Remmer, who has also been at the forefront of the campaign to install sewers in the area, said that sewers are essential to facilitating the future sustainability of not just the bay, but the surrounding community as well.

“You have people rebuilding and elevating their homes, but we have to have sewers in order to make that practical, particularly as sea levels continue to rise,” he said.

Meanwhile, local elected officials have been pushing for the extension of a sewer pipeline linking the proposed $475 million Ronkonkoma Hub to the highlighted communities along the South Shore towards Great River.

“There are a number of housing communities along that track who have their own sewage treatment plants that would love to hook into the county system,” said 8th District Suffolk County Legislator Bill Lindsay III last month. “I’m very much in favor of [installing sewers] for Oakdale residents because of the high water table in that area. There are also environmental concerns, and I believe sewers would help alleviate nitrogen levels and help the bay and wetlands.

“We’re probably a few weeks away from announcing which direction we’d like to go,” added Lindsay, who even cited the possibility of privatizing the sewer district. “There are a lot of interested parties and everybody has their own concerns, but we all have a common goal and we’re hoping to bring it all together.”

For more information on the petition and upcoming rally, visit www.change.org/p/steven-bellone-run-the-sewer-pipe-through-sayville-west-sayville-and-oakdale/u/16150421.