Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sharing Long Island Sound's Upgrade Costs: More on Westchester's Dilemma

I wrote yesterday about Westchester County's sewage upgrade dilemma, which boils down to this: the county is facing a huge nitrogen removal cost at its Long Island Sound plants but the way its sewer districts are set up, that cost must be paid by only a relatively small portion of the county's population.

I wrote that I, a county resident who does not live in a sewer district, would consider an increase in my county taxes to pay for the Sound cleanup but first I'd like to have an idea of how much that increase might be.

Edward J. Bateson, chairman of the Town of Fairfield's Water Pollution Control Authority the commission that oversees how Fairfield's sewage system is run -- sent me his thoughts on the issue, and they're similar to mine: Long Island Sound is worth the extra cost. Here's what he wrote:

Apportionment of treatment plant upgrade costs over indirect users of the sewer system is a tough sell.

In Fairfield, CT about a decade ago we dealt with the subject. As a municipality we spread the $38 million upgrade cost over the entire towns' tax base, not just sewer users. I believe we are only one of two towns in CT to take this approach.

I was originally opposed to this. After months of debate I changed my mind. I changed my mind for several reasons. The main reason being that it aint all about nitrogen removal goals, engineering studies and low contract bidders; it is about Long Island Sound. It is our legacy and the example we set for generations to come.

All of us benefit from clean water - even those that do not have their sewage treated at the plants in question.
Why should I pay for a highway upstate that I have never used, and probably never will use? Its' what we do. Collaborative resources to advance the publics' best interest. In this case the best interest of the public being a cleaner Long Island Sound.

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Anonymous Bryan said...

If I were a resident of Westchester County who didn't live in a coastal community but was asked to help pay for STP upgrades, my first question would be the same as yours: How much and where is the money going?

My second question would be: Will I have reasonable and reasonably-priced (free?) access within these coastal communities to enjoy LIS?

If I were a Westchester Co. resident, I would expect publicly-accessible beaches in all of those villages that are benefiting from sharing the expense of the upgrades.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Just because an area is not directly connected to a municipal sewer district doesn't mean it's not connected to the Sound. Water flows downhill and moves on the tide, right? The entire area is interconnected. I don't have the benefit of topo, sewer system, and outfall maps, including storm sewers, but something tells me it's rather like the Chesapeake, where a regional plan is really needed - and costs would be spread out in some rational manner.

That's the question, allocation of costs and what is reasonable.

9:23 PM  

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