COVID-19 Delays Forge River Watershed Sewer Project
From social distancing to our economy, the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our lives in countless ways. Here in Suffolk County, the virus is impacting our ability to deliver important infrastructure projects that improve the quality of life in our community. In particular, the Forge River Watershed Sewer Project has experienced significant interruptions due to COVID-19. Project planning and implementation were pushed back in response to stay-at-home orders and restrictions on public gatherings. Accordingly, public meetings that were scheduled with property owners in March were canceled and have not been rescheduled. As well, both Suffolk County and our project design team directed non-essential staff to remain at home, interrupting project-related activities.
These delays have the potential to affect the project’s funding. The Forge River project is one of four Suffolk County Coastal Resiliency Initiative (SCCRI) sewer projects. These projects are being funded by a combination of funding sources but primarily with Hurricane Sandy Community Development Block Grant—Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding and are tied together and interdependent of each other with respect to utilization of funds. By law, the CDBG-DR funds must be used by September 9, 2022. It is critically important that the CDBG-DR funding is protected in order for the SCCRI projects, including the Forge River Watershed Sewer Project to move forward.
We are not alone in this! Critical infrastructure projects across the U.S. that will assist our country’s climate policy are facing this same situation. The New York Times recently published an article highlighting the impacts on projects in multiple states that are funded by CDBG-DR funding and the implication of delays as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Suffolk County officials and project stakeholders are working diligently to protect the CDBG-DR funding, which is making the SCCRI sewer projects, including the Forge River Watershed Sewer Project, possible. Click here to read several letters written by stakeholder groups, calling for the extension of the CDBG-DR expenditure deadline.
We will continue to provide project updates, as they are available, on this site.
Your Questions Answered (Actual questions posed by community members)
Why does our community need a sewer system?
A. Decades of nitrogen pollution from outdated, poorly functioning or broken septic systems and cesspools have contributed significantly to polluting the Forge River and groundwater in the Mastic-Shirley area. Read More...
In consideration of COVID-19 and the need to limit large group gatherings, the work sessions planned for March 2020 were postponed. Suffolk County officials, in partnership with the project design team, is exploring options to reformat and reschedule these work sessions, such that we can continue to advance the project while safeguarding our residents.
If you have any questions, you can contact us through the contact us tab. For general questions, contact Legislator Rudy Sunderman's office anytime at 631-852-1300.
Open house updates residents on sewer referendum
With the public referendum on the sewer project fast approaching, more than 100 residents attended two open houses to learn more about the January 22 vote. If the question passes, the Forge River Watershed Sewer District will be established; a sewer district must be created in order for the sewer project to continue. A highlight of the January 8 event at Mastic Fire House was the display of a typical six-foot grinder pump unit, which will be installed at residential and commercial properties.
Suffolk County Legislator Rudy Sunderman (left) and county Department of Public Works Deputy Commissioner Eric Hofmeister speak with residents.
Hundreds of residents attend Public Information Sessions
More than 200 Mastic community members turned out to learn about the latest developments on the Forge River Watershed Sewer Project..........
•Decades of nitrogen pollution from septic systems,
cesspools, agricultural uses and runoff have degraded
surface and ground waters.
•Poor water quality hurts our coastal resiliency,
environment, economy, land values, tourism industry
•Long Island’s tidal wetlands play a critical role in
protecting against storm damage. Nitrogen pollution
is the leading cause of wetland, sea grass and
•Most of the nitrogen pollution in the Great South Bay comes from unsewered homes of which Suffolk has 360,000, more than the entire state of New Jersey.
•Constructing a sewer system in the Mastic-Shirley area
is a major step toward cleaning up our rivers, bays
and underground water.
• The first two phases of the Forge River Watershed
Sewer Project are expected to hook up many homes
and businesses and safely treat millions of gallons of
• The project is expected to reduce nitrogen by 70% in
the Forge River, the most severely polluted water way in
• Combined with sewer projects in three other priority areas, harmful nitrogen pollution
in the Great South Bay is projected to be reduced by 25%.
Community members come out for new information meetings
As the design process for the project continues, dozens of residents attended a series of follow up informational meetings on September 20. Questions about property owner costs and benefits of sewers were high on the list of topics raised by residents........
Suffolk County Coastal Resiliency Program
Suffolk County, in cooperation with the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and state Environmental Facilities Corporation, has begun its first major investment in advanced wastewater treatment in decades. The projects propose to extend sewers to communities along the Great South Bay that have substandard septic systems, dense populations, a short depth to groundwater, and short travel times for nitrogen-enriched groundwater to enter rivers and bays. Extending sewers is a crucial factor in helping these communities continue recovering from the devastating impacts of Superstorm Sandy.
Learn more about how the county and state are working together: