Sewer Shortage Pits Developers Against Residents on Long Island

Plans to develop eastern Long Island as a thriving tech hub with "bustling downtowns and new apartments for young families" are facing a messy obstacle, the absence of "a basic element of a modern civilization: sewers."
August 29, 2012, 5am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Will James reports on the conundrum facing one of the nation's largest suburban counties, as it tries to build more self-contained communities. "Suffolk is home to 1.5 million people and part of the nation's biggest metropolitan area, but sewers reach less than one-third of its residents," as result of its relatively slow history of development and lack of density. 

"Suffolk's health regulations, like those in most counties, limit how much waste a parcel of land can take," notes James. "So development in many neighborhoods is stalled until the county can find some way to finance and build new sewage treatment plants and vast collection systems, which can cost tens of millions or dollars or more."

"Some Suffolk residents, though, see sewers as a sign of urbanization, and a harbinger of more strip malls, McMansions and unwanted population density," observes James. 

"'They've got a lot of work to do to convince the populace that this is their saving grace,' said MaryAnn Johnston, a civic leader in the Town of Brookhaven. 'It may be a saving grace for a small segment of the population: the developers.'"


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Published on Monday, August 27, 2012 in The Wall Street Journal
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