NEW YORK - New York and New Jersey communities hit by Sandy will get $569 million for improvements to sewage treatment and drinking water facilities, the federal Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday.
New York will get $340 million in federal disaster relief funds and $229 million is going to New Jersey, EPA officials said.
The massive storm released 11 billion gallons of sewage from East Coast treatment plants into bodies of water from Washington to Connecticut, a report released this week by a science journalism group found.
The funds are intended to help communities in New York and New Jersey weather the next big storm without a similar dangerous release of sewage, EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck said.
"We're spending millions to avoid having to spend billions during the next big storm," said Enck, who joined the EPA's acting administrator, Bob Perciasepe, in a conference call with reporters.
"These funds are another critical step in the administration's ongoing effort to help New York and New Jersey recover and move forward in a way that ensures local communities are stronger than ever before," Perciasepe said.
Enck mentioned the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission system in Newark, N.J., and the Bay Park sewage plant in Nassau County as among the facilities most badly damaged by the Oct. 29, 2012, storm.
Both plants poured hundreds of millions of gallons of raw and partly raw sewage into surrounding waterways in the weeks after the storm.
The EPA funds will be awarded to the states, which will distribute them to local communities as loans or grants.
Projects that might qualify for the money would include restoring wetlands to collect storm water and providing backup power sources at sewage plants, the EPA said.
The states will review the proposals and submit recommendations to the EPA for review, which will include a public comment period.