Sewerage in the business district comes into focus

The project is funded with a $5 million grant from the 2023 state budget. Posing with the ceremonial inspection, from left are Steve Reiter, Commissioner of the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District (GNWPCD), Mark Sauvigne, Commissioner of the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District, Patty Katz, GNWPCD Commissioner, Bill Hannan, Co-President of the Manhasset Chamber , North Hempstead Councilor Veronica Lurvey, Manhasset Chamber Co-President Matt Donno, Councilor Mariann Dalimonte, Senator Anna Kaplan, Rep. Gina Sillitti, Supervisor Jen DeSenna and GNWPCD Commissioner Jerry Landsberg. (Contributed photo)

See start of construction late 2023, early 2024

Large numbers were passed around. Complicated legal maneuvers were considered. A disruptive infrastructure project was envisaged. All this only in spring 2022.

And then, almost miraculously, the scale changed and the goals were to be achieved with far fewer resources.

The long-awaited sewerage project Plandome Road will become reality in the next few years, according to the Manhasset Press. And it will be built in a much less complicated way than originally thought. But first a little history.

The Manhasset area, like much of the North Shore, depends on septic tank/cesspool systems to deal with sewage. As far back as its 1989 Master Plan, the City of North Hempstead concluded that the lack of sewers on Plandome Road – the hamlet’s main business district – limited its economic potential. Additionally, a 1999 study by the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee to improve the bay’s water quality recommended sewerage “to achieve nitrogen reduction consistent with Long Island Sound Study recommendations.”

Looking south down Plandome Road in Manhasset. Some of the companies are spending thousands a month cleaning their septic systems and will benefit greatly from the installation of sewers. (Photo by Frank Rizzo)

Momentum has built up over the past few years. A “Manhasset Sewer Feasibility Study” by the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District (GNWPCD) was released in January 2020 and estimated the cost of building the sewage system in its so-called main area (the business district) at $16.8 million with a number of almost $24 million for the secondary area (Bayview residential area). The district has a water treatment facility on East Shore Road in Great Neck on the west shore of Manhasset Bay.

According to the sewer feasibility study, the Plandome Road neighborhood would extend from Northern Boulevard to Vanderbilt Avenue and include side street shops.

The sewer project was supported by the Manhasset Chamber of Commerce and the Council of Greater Manhasset Civic Associations, led by Robbie Donno. The chamber collected more than 1,800 signatures in favor of sanitation and facilitated meetings attended by the district, city and other elected officials to explore ways to move the project forward and secure funding.

One complicating factor that was removed over the past year was the idea that the GNWPCD had to ‘attach’ what their study defined as their primary territory for taxing purposes. This led to conflicts between the district and city attorneys.

The Great Neck Water Pollution Control District coverage area is outlined with black lines. Plandome Road division (in red) will be added over the next few years. (contributed graphic)

A major step forward came in the spring when Rep. Gina L. Sillitti (D-Port Washington) and Sen. Anna M. Kaplan (D-North Hills) announced in the final negotiations for the 2023 state budget that they had secured one had a $5 million grant for the GNWPCD in the State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) budget for capital projects. As it turned out, that was all it took to install a sewer line on Plandome Road.

The Super speaks

GNWPCD Superintendent Chris Murphy in an interview with the Manhasset Presswas asked for an estimate of when the project would begin.

“We are currently hiring the engineers to come up with a design proposal,” he replied. “Alongside this activity, we are actively working with NYSDEC to submit and secure all grant documentation and approvals for continuation. Although a lot can change at this moment, I would guess [the project would start at] Late 2023 or early 2024.”

“Do you need permits from the City of North Hempstead to carry out the work?” He was asked.

He replied: “All we would need would be a simple road opening permit. Nothing more.”

The cover sheet of the feasibility study shows the two areas of Manhasset that are being considered for sewer installation. (contributed graphic)

Murphy said the borough has a sewer line on Northern Boulevard that serves Manhasset’s businesses on that main shopping street. The district will run a small (perhaps 4 inch) pipe along its designated primary area at Plandome Road and it estimates that approximately 3,000 linear feet of pipe will be laid and connected to the Northern Boulevard line. The waste then flows to an existing pumping station, which transports it to the treatment plant.

Businesses in Plandome Road can choose whether or not to be connected to the sewer system and unlike in a sewer district they are not subject to any tax. They are charged a usage fee and have to pay for the cost of connecting and installing what Murphy called a mill pump. These pumps are part of what experts call a low-pressure system, which is more effective than a gravity system in most areas. They shred the waste and take it to the main line.

The Great Neck Water Pollution Control District will add the Plandome Road business district to its service area. (Google Maps)

“Each of these pumps can pump the building’s sewer for almost a mile. Since this is a low-pressure sewer system, we’re going to try to install most of it using what’s known as directional drilling,” Murphy explained. “We will not dig a trench along Plandome Road and put a pipe in the ground. With horizontal drilling, we only have to open holes about every four or 500 feet, so it’s much less disruptive to traffic and pedestrians, and also to businesses.”

Gravity channels, he said, would have to be dug much deeper to follow the land’s gradient. They would also be much larger in diameter, further increasing the cost. With the shallower, low-pressure systems, customers do not have to dig deep to connect to the sewer line, reducing costs and complications.

The sewage installation on Plandome is a line in the district’s 2022 budget, Murphy added. District leaders are in talks with the DEC and will work through what he called the New York State Grant Gateway to manage the project.

“Manhasset stakeholders advancing the primary and secondary projects have been concerned to learn that Great Neck is looking to increase its sewer system and believe your facility will reach capacity and they may be left out in the future. Can you answer?” Murphy was asked.

“Currently, our facilities are designed to treat 5.3 million gallons per day and we typically treat an average of 2.6 to 2.7 million gallons per day,” he replied. “We have some capacity for the foreseeable future. So there is nothing on the horizon that I would worry about that would bring us to the point where we would need to look to expand.”

Murphy said the district is currently conducting a study of the Great Neck Estates sewer system. The Manhasset Feasibility Study estimates that the Plandome Road business district will generate 55,000 gallons of wastewater per day.

channel advantage

The feasibility study states: “The benefits of sewerage are well known and can be grouped into environmental, economic and social categories. First and foremost in this proposed sewerage project are the environmental benefits. The degradation of Long Island Sound and local inlets from excess nutrients and E. coli is well documented.”

Robbie Donno, a member of the Manhasset Chamber of Commerce, chats with North Hempstead Supervisor Jen DeSena at the Chamber of Commerce lunch earlier this year. Donno was the central figure in the Chamber’s effort to be the sewer for the Plandome Road business district. (Photo by Frank Rizzo)

The study continues: “The economic benefits of sewerage would be seen through the ability of local wet operations (wet uses indicate those with higher water consumption and therefore higher wastewater production such as doctor’s offices, restaurants, salons and laundries) to grow and reduce the cost of removal of sewage waste and the improvement of local conditions (shaft congestion and odors) near the companies.”

In addition, “the sewers will allow restaurants to expand seating and bring new restaurants to the area. Sewers would attract higher wastewater producers such as doctors’ offices, salons, and laundries. The City of North Hempstead would generate additional tax revenue that offsets the cost of providing services to its residents and businesses. It also eliminates the use of sewage systems in business backyards and alleys, increasing parking space.”

The study concludes that “economic stability and future growth will be constrained by a lack of wastewater treatment capacity. Ensuring that adequate channel capacity is available is vital to the future economic stability of local businesses.”

This diagram shows a low pressure system using a mill pump for a residential system. Commercial customers would need larger pumps. (CitizensEnergyGroup.com/STEP)

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