County Approves Funds for New Castle Sewage Diversion Project

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Residents in three New Castle communities saw the chances of having their homes connected to sewers increase significantly Monday night when the Westchester County Board of Legislators authorized spending $16 million for the town’s sewer expansion project.

By a 12-5 vote, the Board of Legislators approved an inter-municipal agreement with the town to pay for the majority of the costs for connections for Riverwoods, Random Farms and Yeshiva, which consists of roughly 300 residences.

The three communities have had failing sewage treatment facilities that have threatened the Croton Reservoir, a major source of drinking water for New York City and parts of Westchester.

The resolution was signed Tuesday by County Executive Rob Astorino.

“After 18 years of debate, we’ve done right by the environment and these citizens and these homeowners,” said Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowitz (D-Somers), whose district includes New Castle and the affected neighborhoods.

The action allows the county to distribute the money from the East of Hudson Water Quality Investment Program Fund. The money had been provided by New York City and its Department of Environmental Protection in a 1997 Memorandum of Agreement with the county to improve drinking water quality in the city’s watershed by paying for various projects.

New Castle Supervisor Robert Greenstein said work calls for a county sewer trunk line, which now ends near Route 100 in Briarcliff Manor, to be extended to the Riverwoods Wastewater Treatment Plant and through Random Farms. More than 38,000 linear feet of pipeline and four new pump stations would be constructed, he said.

“This project is critically important,” Greenstein said. “We need to solve the problem of failing waste water treatment plants that are impacting the Croton Reservoir, as it affects the water supply for Westchester County and New York City.”

While the funding is an important component, it does not guarantee the project will be done. Greenstein said the estimated price of between $24 million and $26 million will require additional sources of funding. Earlier this year the town applied for a $5 million grant through the state’s Water Quality Improvement Program for Yeshiva. If the town can secure that grant, he said the chances could increase to obtain the remaining funds through other grants and by lobbying the local state representatives.

“We will continue to work hard to secure the additional funds that’s needed in order to complete this project to offset the cost for the local taxpayers,” Greenstein said.

Kaplowitz said it was a struggle over the years to convince a majority of the Board of Legislators to vote for the funding. The four legislators from Yonkers, all of whom voted against Monday’s resolution along with Legislator Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh), had been strongly opposed to the project which will divert an estimated 200,000 gallons of sewage a day from the three neighborhoods to the county plant in Yonkers.

Unlike another diversion project more than a decade ago that would have sent sewage from Yorktown to a county plant in Peekskill that stalled because of capacity issues, that was not the case here, Kaplowitz said. The Yonkers plant has a daily sewage capacity of 120 million gallons, but is currently operating at about 90 million gallons a day, he said.

Kaplowitz, who had worked on this issue since first being elected in 1997, said the county will move forward with odor remediation at the Yonkers sewage plant, one of the key issues in the fight to secure the funding. But he was pleased that many of his colleagues concluded that this project needed to move forward.

“This is a big victory and it feels quite good to see it from beginning to send,” he said.



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