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Vanderbilt’s New Wastewater Systems Will Reduce Nitrogen Discharge into Bay

At press conference: Lance Reinheimer (center), executive director of the Vanderbilt Museum; Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment; and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
Photo courtesy of Suffolk County

Installation of two new wastewater treatment systems at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum will help to reduce the impact of nitrogen flowing into Northport Bay.

Completed in September, the project was announced recently at the Museum by County and Museum officials, and environmental advocates. This technology upgrades the 50-year-old wastewater systems at the Vanderbilt Planetarium and at the Museum Gatehouse. More than 115,000 people visit the Museum each year.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone joined with Legislators William Spencer, Susan Berland, and Tom Donnelly, and Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the Vanderbilt, for the event in the Museum’s Rose Garden that overlooks the bay. Bellone said the Innovative and Alternative On-Site Wastewater Treatment Systems are expected to reduce nitrogen discharge at the site by approximately 164 pounds annually.

The Vanderbilt was chosen for installation of the new systems because of its location on Northport Bay and adjacent to the Long Island Sound, designated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as an impaired waterbody and an estuary of national significance. This area has been identified as a priority area within the county Subwatershed Wastewater Plan.

Bellone said the county plans to install nearly 1,200 nitrogen-reducing wastewater treatment systems next year, doubling the number currently installed each month.

The installation of the new systems is part of Bellone’s Reclaim Our Water initiative, which seeks to reduce nitrogen pollution of groundwater and surface waters from cesspools and septic systems through the connection of communities to sewer systems and the installation of advanced on-site wastewater treatment systems.

Legislator William Spencer said, “The installation of these new innovative systems allows us to address the major contributor to water quality issues – nitrogen discharge that emanates from 360,000-plus antiquated cesspools in Suffolk County. I am so pleased to see this technology brought to our county parks, specifically the Vanderbilt Museum, which sits directly beside a waterbody that we have worked so hard to restore.”

(The Vanderbilt Estate and Museum is Suffolk County’s first park, opened to the public on July 6, 1950.)

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said, “Treating our sewage here in the year 2019 is not a luxury we can’t afford, but rather it is a necessity that we can’t afford not to do. This is what change looks like, one installation at a time.”

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