Monday, July 30, 2007

Report: Westchester Wants Out of Sound Cleanup

Westchester County wants to be let out of its obligation to help clean up Long Island Sound. The Journal News reported yesterday that the county is asking to be absolved of having to upgrade sewage treatment plants to meet the Sound cleanup’s 58.5 percent nitrogen reduction goal set for 2014 – a goal that all of the treatment plants emptying into the Sound have to meet:

Westchester County officials are asking to be released from the requirements, arguing that the upgrades would be expensive and would bring little or no improvement in water quality….

Westchester has filed plans with the state to improve its plants on Long Island Sound, but County Executive Andrew Spano's administration is grousing publicly about the cost of correcting what they portray as a minute portion of the problem.

While many environmentalists are eager to see the county do the work, Spano and Deputy County Executive Larry Schwartz have sought to downplay the importance of the 4,200 pounds of nitrogen coming daily from four county treatment plants. Schwartz said the plants - primarily the ones in Mamaroneck and New Rochelle - add less than 1 percent of the nitrogen that gets to the Sound from all sources, including the atmosphere.

Officials won't say how much the Westchester upgrades would cost, but Schwartz called it the "mother of all mandates."

"And then the question is, what happens if it doesn't work?" he said.

Unfortunately there aren't any other details about what form the county's request has taken.

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