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Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant Gets Long-Awaited Fix After Flooding Homes, Polluting Water Since Failing During Superstorm Sandy

ISLAND PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - Cleaner waterways and safer homes are on tap on Long Island, where officials on Monday unveiled a transformed water treatment plant.

The decades-old plant was flooded in Superstorm Sandy and sent raw sewage into homes. CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reports officials say those days are over.

The sound of sewage - music to the ears of some.

"They did something right, because the smell is gone now," a resident said.

The threat of a repeat of the mess made eight years ago when Sandy flooded homes on the South Shore with raw sewage is also gone.

After years of putrid odors and some of the worst nitrogen pollution in the country, the Bay Park Wastewater Treatment Plant, which serves half-a-million residents in Nassau County, has a long-awaited fix.

"The waters will be cleaner, the fish will come back, the shell fish beds will be reopened and, once again, it will be that beautiful place that we call home," said Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

FLASHBACK: Raw Sewage Still Plagues Long Island Homes 5 Weeks After Sandy

$800 million in federal, local and state money were invested to build a state of the art plant with a biological nutrient removal system, which will address problems caused by nitrogen levels.

"Nitrogen has been killing our environment here on the South Shore of Nassau County and Long Island for too long," Sen. Chuck Schumer said.

Nitrogen has been choking the life out of bays since the 1940s.

"This treatment plant was poisoning our environment and our ecosystem," State Sen. Todd Kaminsky said. "Instead of it being flushed out in the ocean like it's supposed to, it just sat in the bay."

"You gotta remember, Nassau County was one of the first suburbs in the entire county. We built this infrastructure a very, long time ago. We're long overdue for an upgrade," said Carl Lobue of The Nature Conservancy.

The plant's new technology removes nearly half of the nitrogen, breathing new life into dead bays and protecting nearby homes.

Soon, a three mile outfall pipe will send treated sewage deep into the ocean, instead of clogging the bay. It will cut nitrogen by 90%.

The end result is cleaner and safer water.

Marshes in the bays act as a barrier to prevent flooding. If they're brought back to life, Long Island's mainland will regain vital protection.

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