Get to Know: The Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority
What is the BRSA, and who runs it? Patch explains.
What is the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority?
The Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority, often called "The BRSA," is a government agency that handles the raw sewage of eight towns, by transporting, treating and disposing it, and discharging cleaned water into the Raritan Bay. The authority performs this essential service for Union Beach, Holmdel, Keyport, Hazlet, Keansburg, Matawan, Aberdeen and parts of Marlboro. The authority bills the municipalities, which in turn bill the households hooked up to the system via sewer rates. (Holmdel Patch did a survey of what homeowners' quarterly bills look like in different towns; see the article here.)
How did the BRSA come about?
The BRSA entered into an agreement with Holmdel, Hazlet and Union Beach on June 24, 1971 "to alleviate the serious public health and water pollution problems now existing as a result of a lack of such facilities," according to municipal ordinances published in the Daily Register on March 13, 1972. (According to that legal notice, the agreement expires June 24, 2012.)
BRSA Commissioner David Cohen was Holmdel's mayor in 1972. He said Union Beach homes were in a flood plain, septic tanks were failing and it did not have any waste treatment plants. "Raw sewage was running down the street," he recalled.
State-run Union Beach did not have bonding power, Cohen said, so state authorities stepped in and urged Holmdel and Hazlet to join Union Beach in the regional authority. Seeing cost savings, Holmdel disconnected its sewerage collection systems from the county Bayshore Outfall Authority and hooked up with the BRSA. (The pipes are three to four miles below the surface, said Cohen.)
At that time, the estimated volume from Hazlet was 643 million gallons per year. Union Beach was estimated to send 245 million gallons per year. And Holmdel 75 million gallons per year.
Who runs the BRSA?
The authority's executive director is Robert C. Fischer, who, in 2010, was paid $126,528 plus pension and benefits, according to the Asbury Park Press DataUniverse site. There are six Commissioners of the BRSA -- two from each of the original three towns that formed the BRSA. They are appointed by their town mayors. The Commissioners serve five-year terms.
- From Holmdel, Assistant Treasurer David Cohen and Assistant Secretary John Colligas.
- From Hazlet, Chairman Lou Pisano and Secretary James DiNardo.
- From Union Beach, Vice Chairman Frank A. Wells and Treasurer Kathleen Parsells.
The Commissioners serve on sub-committees. A list can be found here.
What are BRSA Commissioners paid?
Commissioners receive a $2,000 stipend a year, the same as they did in 1972. "We have not asked for, or received, a raise," said David Cohen. "We do not receive medical benefits, or any other kind of benefits," he said. Cohen said serving on the BRSA is part of his personal commitment to public service.
How many are employed by the BRSA?
There are 33 people on the payroll, including the six Commissioners. The plant operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Where is the BRSA located?
The BRSA is located at 100 Oak Street in Union Beach, but don't rely on your GPS or you might find yourself driving into the bay. The most direct way to get there from Holmdel is to take Bethany Road, to Poole Avenue, over Route 36 and into Union Beach. Follow until the end, merge onto Florence Ave and then take a quick left onto 8th street in Union Beach. The site is straight ahead.
The Authority is a 24-acre secure facility located near the shoreline, accessible to authorized people through a passkey. Members of the public can press a button to be connected to an official to be allowed entry.
What does the BRSA do?
The BRSA is a wastewater treatment plant. According to executive director Robert Fischer, eight million gallons of sewage undergoes screening and filtering processes, and cleaning. The treated water is tested to meet state standards before it is pumped into the bay. Said Cohen, "We pump out very high quality water."
Does the BRSA hold public meetings?
The BRSA holds meetings twice a month, and the public is invited to observe and comment. They are scheduled for the second and third Mondays of the month, at 7 p.m. (You will find them on the Holmdel Patch calendar.)
The first meeting is the agenda meeting, when the Commissioners discuss issues. The second meeting is the regular meeting, when they vote on the items discussed in the agenda meeting. "The public has an opportunity to speak at both meetings," said Cohen.
If you go to a meeting, be sure to arrive before the meeting begins or you will not be able to connect with personnel at the gate for permission to enter.
Can I read minutes of the BRSA meetings?
Minutes of the meetings, including decisions voted upon after closed sessions and comments by the public, are published on their website, BayshoreRSA.com. The May 16 meeting minutes are posted now.
Why is the BRSA building a wind turbine?
The BRSA's decision to erect a 260-foot tall wind turbine (the tip of the blades would make it reach 380 feet) is underway to save electricity costs. They have completed 12 required studies and obtained the state DEP permits they need. They are now waiting for permits from the county to transport the tower along county roads. The project is described on their website.
According to Cohen, the BRSA pays JCP&L $1.4 million for 8 million kilowatt hours to run the facility. With winds in the area averaging 15 mph, "The turbine will cut that in half," said Cohen. "By saving that amount of money, we will be able reduce the rates to our customers by 15%, which is about $500,000 a year."
Solar energy projects were considered, but rejected said Fischer. "We would need the equivalent about six acres of solar panels to produce the amount of power that the turbine would produce."
The project has sparked controversy, particularly among residents who live in the Union Beach neighborhoods surrounding the BRSA. They argue that the structure is too large, and it will devastate their property values and negatively affect their health and well-being. In March, Holmdel Township joined the Monmouth County Freeholders and the municipalities of Union Beach, Hazlet and Keyport in opposition to the wind turbine's construction, out of concern for the impact on Bayshore area residents.