Wastewater upgrades, funded partly by the Suffolk County Water Quality Protection and Restoration Program, are coming to Reeves Beach in Riverhead.
An introductory resolution authorizing the project passed during a Suffolk County Environment, Planning and Agriculture Committee meeting Monday and will head to the county legislature at the general meeting next week.
Upgrades to the existing sewage disposal system will reduce the overall nitrogen entering the groundwater and Long Island Sound, which is included on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation list of impaired bodies of water.
The new, nitrogen-reducing system will replace the current system, which services public restrooms at the town beach. According to Joe Maiorana, Assistant Community Development Project Supervisor, the existing system is approximately 30 years old.
Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Peconic) said the project will help the environment. “Everything that goes down the drain ends up either in the Sound or bay. It’s good to spend money on municipal projects because they’re expensive and certainly will help water quality,” he said.
Upon completion, the new system is anticipated to remove at least 68 percent of the untreated wastewater nitrogen loading from the wastewater generated by the facility and will be equipped with influent and effluent sampling locations within the system to allow for continued monitoring.
The county resolution also requires the Town of Riverhead to post signage at Reeves Beach to inform the public of the environmental and public health benefits of the new on-site wastewater treatment upgrades funded in part by Suffolk County.
Last fall, Riverhead Town officials announced that they would pursue grant funding to update the septic system at the beach located on Park Road.
In February, the town board authorized the Community Development Department and Engineering Department to submit the grant application to the Suffolk County Water Quality Protection and Restoration Program to cover 50 percent of the anticipated $79,625 project cost to upgrade the sanitary system.
According to Dawn Thomas, town community development administrator, the nearly $40,000 Riverhead is responsible for has already been budgeted. The county has pledged $39,312 toward the project, which is expected to begin this fall. “The bathroom there closes after Labor Day, so it’s an ideal time to do the work,” Mr. Krupski said.
This project joins county water quality capital projects totalling $29.4 million this year, including $20 million for land purchases, $4.7 million for water quality projects and $4.7 million for sewer improvement projects.
“It’s a good project,” Ms. Thomas said in an email Tuesday. “It saves us money and also is much better for the environment.”
Mr. Maiorana said that while there are no plans to upgrade systems at other beaches, the town will monitor the results and performance of the system at Reeves.
Photo caption: A new, nitrogen-reducing wastewater system will be installed at Reeves Beach in Riverhead. (Tara Smith photo)