G.N. water control district gets grant to enhance wastewater testing

G.N. water control district gets grant to enhance wastewater testing
State Sen. Anna Kaplan presents a $200,000 grant to the leadership of the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District. (Photo courtesy of the senator's office)

The Great Neck Water Pollution Control District received a $200,000 state grant for upgrades to its environmental laboratory in continuing efforts to improve wastewater treatment.

The grant, which was secured with the help of state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills), will provide state-of-the-art equipment so that the district can conduct public health data sampling as well, officials said. With the prominence of the coronavirus and polio, officials said, the need to ensure the quality of wastewater is imperative.

By upgrading this important facility with the latest technology, we can better protect our bays and our groundwater, and we can deliver more efficient and cost-effective service for taxpayers,” Kaplan said in a statement. “I’m proud to be able to support this important project by delivering the funding that will get it built.”

The water district’s chairwoman, Patty Katz, said: “The laboratory upgrades it will provide will help us to continue to protect our environment and further optimize our treatment efficiency.”

The district’s laboratory has been in service for more than 15 years, officials said, and limited space inhibits the district from conducting a certain amount of onsite wastewater testing. Surveilling the wastewater, officials said, is done by taking wastewater samples and measuring the amount of certain viruses in them.

Coronavirus, officials said, can be detected in wastewater as long as seven days before noteworthy increases of infected individuals become tracked. Opioids, Hepatitis A and E, influenza and other resistant pathogens have been tracked by other counties throughout the state by wastewater surveillance.

The district has been the recipient of other noteworthy grants to keep it on the cutting edge of wastewater and sewage treatment, including a $12 million one to create the county’s first grease-receiving station and add a third microturbine.

The addition of grease to the digesters allows the anaerobic tanks to further break down organic matter without oxygen, with the main product being methane. The methane is then fed into the microturbines, which results in renewable energy for the facility, officials said.

District officials announced last year that their environmental efforts had also prevented more than 217,000 pounds of excess nitrogen from entering the Manhasset Bay since 2014.

The need to avoid excess nitrogen in bodies of water such as the Manhasset Bay is due to the far-reaching impact it has, along with phosphorus, on ecosystems. The combination of too much nitrogen and phosphorus allows algae to grow faster than the ecosystems can handle, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

After updating the treatment facility several years ago, the district is now able to treat waste and remove nitrogen at a much higher level. The district has also eliminated septic tank usage throughout the district by connecting businesses and residential homes. The district has connected the Americana shopping center to its system. 

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