JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO
A house on Peconic Lake in Calverton. Residents in the surrounding
neighborhood have long complained of polluted well water. Elected
leaders believe they could be close to securing federal funding to
bring public water to the area.
Elected officials last week sought feedback from Calverton residents about a plan to connect a “brown water”-plagued neighborhood there with public water using $2 million in federal stimulus funds.
The money had been slated to fund a water main extension to the 24-home Brown Hills neighborhood in Orient. But local residents and Southold Town officials rejected that project because they feared the infrastructure might lead to increased development.
Before they tried to secure the stimulus money for Calverton, Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and state Assemblyman Marc Alessi (D-Shoreham) said they wanted to make sure residents of Peconic Lake Estates wanted public water, and they met Friday with about 25 residents at the Peconic Lake Civic Organization’s headquarters.
“You do want this project, yes?” Mr. Bishop asked the crowd, to which the audience replied: “Yes!”
Civic member Judy Thompson said she wants public water because water from her home is brown.
“If I wash white clothing, it turns brown,” she said. “It’s terrible. This is a health and safety concern.”
Mr. Bishop said he will ask the state health department to instruct the Environmental Facilities Corporation to move the money from the Brown Hills project to Calverton.
“I heard what I needed to hear,” he said. “This community wants this project.”
Located on South River Road and Pinehurst Boulevard, the neighborhood consists of about 215 houses whose occupants all use well water.
“There is absolutely no requirement on the part of the Environmental Facilities Corporation to keep the money in Suffolk County,” Mr. Bishop told residents. “The challenge is get that money to here.”
County Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches), who was not at the press event, said in an interview this week that he has been working with the Peconic Lake Estates community to bring in public water for years, but past efforts have been defeated. He said that while many homeowners want public water, they can’t afford to pay for a system themselves.
If the Environmental Facilities Corporation — a public benefit corporation that provides funding and technical support to municipalities — agrees, the Calverton project would receive about $2 million of stimulus funding to offset the costs for Calverton residents, officials said.
Homeowners also said they need fire hydrants, which the community now lacks.
“The Peconic Lake Estates community is a low-income area with many wells that are questionable,” Mr. Romaine said. “The project will provide them with fire protection and access to clean public water.”