After pumping out tunnels and buildings immediately after the storm, the recovery team spent the first part of 2013 making emergency repairs and stabilizing the plant, Glus says. They then moved from emergency measures to interim measures, such as replacing an emergency dewatering system with an interim one.

At present, the plant is "still very susceptible to damage" because temporary workarounds, systems and wiring are still in place, Glus notes. He adds that Arcadis was instrumental in helping Bay Park secure the FEMA grant. "We worked with FEMA in late spring and summer while we were developing our design," he adds.

Putting Up Walls

Plans include building a levee with a reinforced flood wall around the perimeter of the plant to provide protection against the 500-year storm and account for anticipated sea level rise, he says. This work was out for bid at press time. The first phase of electrical work that includes replacing damaged substations is expected to begin in a few months, he adds. Work will also include elevating and/or hardening as many as 57 pump stations; building a larger sewage collection line; and hardening and replacing sludge dewatering equipment and buildings damaged by Sandy.

In New Jersey, hard-hit treatment plants are moving ahead on immediate upgrades, particularly the Passaic Valley Sewage Commission's facility in Newark. But, with an estimated $200 million in storm damage, much work remains to be procured and funded, says chief engineer John Rotolo.

The utility soon will issue an RFP for design of a replacement electrical power feeder network plant-wide, according to Rotolo. "All of the cables got wet so we've been running temporary feeders overhead," he says. He estimates the project at about $40 million to $50 million.

An estimated $45-million project to upgrade the plant's motor control center and substation is also in design now, Rotolo says. Plans and specs are set for completion in September.

More critical to the plant's resiliency defenses are plans to build a wall up to 19 ft high around the 160-acre facility and a $65-million, 30-megawatt onsite primary power plant. Rotolo expects to hear from FEMA as early as the end of February on the utility's funding request for $250 million. Assuming good news, Passaic Valley will issue an RFP within three months and have design completed in about 18 months, he says.

Plants in nearby Middlesex County, N.J., which also sustained enough damage to discharge more than 1.1 billion gallons of raw sewage into local waters, are completing post-Sandy repairs.

State politicians announced Feb. 11 that the county utilities authority will receive $10.8 million in FEMA funds to finish work at its main pumping station in Sayreville. Work is to include replacement of damaged pumps, actuators, wiring and motor controls. Authorities told a local publication that the facility and two others in Edison and South Amboy sustained nearly $50 million worth of damage, with half of that authorized to be covered by FEMA.

Green & Sustainable Wish Lists

Industry experts say that Sandy served to turn a public spotlight on the region's aging, critical infrastructure and its need for upgrades. NRDC's Chou says that the EPA grant money will help to that end but that it should be used for projects that take into account rising sea levels and other climate change risks.

Also, projects should prioritize natural and green infrastructure, such as green roofs, natural wetlands and oysteries that can help buffer against wave action, he says. While both states mention natural and green infrastructure in the intended-use plans they submitted to EPA, "we'd like to see them promote it," Chou says.

"Right now there's only one stipulation from EPA saying that projects have to be elevated at least 1 ft above the 100-year [storm] levels," Chou says, and NRDC would like to see more.

He says that New York is on the right track with requiring one of three options for elevating critical equipment, such as electrical systems: elevate systems at least 5 ft above the 100-year flood level; 4 ft above the Sandy high-water mark; or at the 500-year level.