A site near the former landfill in Montauk is promising as a potential location for a wastewater treatment plant to serve several locations in that hamlet, East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said last week.
A town committee has been meeting regularly to identify a site that is large enough and meets engineering needs for a facility that would serve the hamlet’s downtown, where properties are typically too small to accommodate innovative alternative septic systems that reduce nitrogen leaching. Many existing septic systems there are failing and must be pumped out regularly.
Wastewater flow and property size constraints limit on-site treatment options in other densely populated areas of the hamlet as well, including Ditch Plain, the docks, and the area around the Long Island Railroad Station and Industrial Road. Town officials are now considering a site larger than initially envisioned, so as to treat effluent from those areas too, someday.The downtown is envisioned as the first in a multi-phase project, with future expansion to serve the other areas.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation has identified water bodies including Fort Pond, Fort Pond Bay, and Lake Montauk as impaired. Fort Pond has had blooms of toxic cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, in recent years. Centralized wastewater treatment is held to a higher standard for effluent, is more efficient, and can remove more contaminants than on-site systems, according to an April presentation to the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee by officials from the town’s Natural Resources Department.
In 2020, the town issued a request for proposals to hire an engineering firm to prepare a map and plan, a conceptual infrastructure layout, and probable costs, for a wastewater management district for downtown Montauk, choosing H2M Architects and Engineers of Melville.
The consultant has recommended selecting a site large enough to accommodate the additional locations, Mr. Van Scoyoc said last week. The dock area would be “a necessary next location” following downtown, he said. “All of these areas are constrained physically for onsite upgrades like we’re doing in residential portions; therefore, community treatment is necessary.”
A suitable site must be determined before the engineers can develop a map and plan, Mr. Van Scoyoc said.
Several properties, including a few Suffolk County-owned parcels adjacent to the former landfill, were considered but later ruled out. Should the final location be within a county park, an alienation process would be required for the project to proceed. That would require sponsors in the State Assembly and Senate, approval of the Suffolk County Parks board of trustees and the County Legislature, and a home rule message, a request by the County Legislature for specific legislation from Albany concerning the property.