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Some Riverhead officials say SCWA can connect homes in Manorville to public water quicker

Some Riverhead Town officials acknowledged at Wednesday’s Town Board meeting that the Suffolk County Water Authority may be the quickest way to get public water to the 62 homes in Manorville that still use private wells.

But they still oppose SCWA’s claim that the Enterprise Park at Calverton falls under SCWA’s service area.

“These are related issues but separate issues,” said Councilwoman Catherine Kent. “You’ve got 62 homes in Manorville where our priority is that we need to get clean water to those people and we have to work together to do that.”

Residents in Manorville and parts of Calverton have asked to be hooked up to public water for years, as their well water has had contaminants in it. 

The SCWA and Riverhead Town have been in a battle over who serves Manorville and also EPCAL, and Riverhead officials have long claimed that SCWA is trying to take over Riverhead’s water district, a charge SCWA denied.

SCWA’s CEO Jeffrey Szabo said recently that, “by law, that section is part of SCWA’s service territory and we can connect the residents to safe drinking water faster and at less cost than Riverhead Town.”

Tim Hopkins, SCWA’s chief legal officer, said last week that “any land not covered by a water district is covered by SCWA.”

He said Manorville “is our coverage territory,” according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Now some Riverhead officials say they might be amenable to allowing SCWA to provide water to homes in Manorville if it’s quicker.

Prior Coverage

Zeldin urges Navy to fund public water connection

SCWA requests federal funding to connect homes to water

“I just have a feeling that with SCWA being a bigger entity, they’re going to get the money faster and quicker than Riverhead Town is,” Councilman Tim Hubbard said Wednesday. “And that’s where my thoughts are, to get this water to those people in Manorville as soon as possible.”

He added: “I am not looking to give up our water department, I would never support that. But the bottom line is not who’s got the better water supply, it’s who can get water to those people first.”

In a recent letter to the U.S. Navy, SCWA says it can provide water to 62 homes in the Manorville section of Riverhead Town for $4.8 million and to 66 homes in Brookhaven Town portion of Manorville for $6.3 million. 

Riverhead Town also has devised a map and plan indicating that it could provide water to Manorville for $4.8 million, although the town is now planning to extend that area farther east, due to additional pollution that’s been uncovered.

The battle with SCWA is one of two that Riverhead is currently engaged in regarding the Manorville area. The other is trying to get the U.S. Navy to pay the cost of cleanup. The town and SCWA are in agreement on this issue. 

But the U.S. Navy is not. 

The Navy owned what is now the EPCAL property from 1950 to 2007 and leased it to the Grumman Corporation, which made and tested military aircraft. 

The Navy gave most of the EPCAL land to Riverhead Town, but kept 352 acres that needed to be cleaned because of pollution caused by the Navy. 

The Navy has said it will pay to clean up pollution it caused, but it won’t agree that it caused the pollution turning up in private wells to the south of EPCAL.

Town officials say they have met with Congressman Lee Zelden (R-Shirley) and U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand in an attempt to get funding for the cleanup.

Riverhead officials are hoping that the Navy will fund the project, with SCWA handling the Brookhaven site and the Riverhead Water District handing the Riverhead Town side.

“The goal here is to supply clean and safe water,” Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said. 

 “This is a matter of public safety and whatever is the most expeditious way to get this done,” said Councilman Frank Beyrodt.

At a recent Town Board meeting, Kelly McClinchy of Manorville, who has been an advocate for the clean water efforts, said it doesn’t matter which utility connects the water.

“It’s very important to us to let you know that we don’t care where the water comes from,” she said. “Whether it’s Riverhead water district or Suffolk County Water Authority, there’s an urgent need, and I don’t think that can be denied by anybody. We want the process to be quick, and we want it to be affordable to these residents.”