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SCWA offers to assist Riverhead Town in connecting Manorville homes to clean water

The Suffolk County Water Authority sent a letter to Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar offering the company’s assistance in connecting some town residents to clean water.

And Riverhead has accepted.

“The Town of Riverhead and Suffolk County Water Authority share a mutual concern of connecting residents impacted by emergent contaminants in Manorville to safe potable water,” SCWA chief executive officer Jeffrey Szabo wrote in a letter to Ms. Aguiar, dated April 26. 

“SCWA is being awarded federal, state and Town of Brookhaven funds to off-set the costs of connecting residents on private wells in the Town of Brookhaven,” he wrote.

SCWA was awarded a $2.7 million state grant in late April to connect homes in the Brookhaven Town portion of Manorville to private wells. The estimated project cost in Brookhaven is $6.75 million. SCWA hasn’t received the money yet, but it has pledges of $3.5 million from the federal government and $2 million from Brookhaven Town, according to SCWA. Riverhead Town had applied for the same grant through the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, but was not selected.

SCWA also has a pledge from the state for 40% of the remaining cost of the project, up to $2.7 million, SCWA spokesman Tim Motz said. 

In March, Riverhead Town, which has its own water district, was awarded $3.5 million to connect private wells to public water through federal funding. Then last week, the town failed to receive $7.5 million it had requested for the water hookup. 

There are 128 homes in the Calverton/Manorville area with only private wells that in many cases contain contaminants.

Of those homes, 64 are in Riverhead Town and 64 are in Brookhaven Town, which is covered by SCWA. 

“They want to possibly collaborate on supplies and possibly use the same vendors,” Ms. Aguiar said Monday. “They requested a meeting and we’re going to have it on Monday [May 9].”

She said the town applied for three grants and still has the opportunity to obtain grants for the Manorville project.

“We are vigorously pursuing it and the goal is to get our Manorville residents connected as quickly as possible,” she said in an interview.

“I know that you have led the effort in the Town of Riverhead to connect residents to public water,” Mr. Szabo’s letter to the supervisor stated. “These two projects present an opportunity for SCWA and the Town of Riverhead to collaborate to potentially reduce costs and ensure that work is completed as quickly as possible. The private wells in this area are subject to contamination with PFOA and PFOS, cancer causing chemicals. It is urgent that all the residents affected be commented to safe public drinking water. By working together, the entire project can be completed more quickly at less cost.” 

Mr. Szabo said SCWA is waiting for direction from the federal government on requirements to access federal money. He said the cost to extend water lines from the road to properties can be anywhere from $1,000 to tens of thousands of dollars, and that this cost is covered by the grants SCWA received. 

Ms. Aguiar said Riverhead will also seeking grants to grant the cost of bringing the water lines to the homes. “It’s good for us to hear that,” said Kelly McClinchy of Manorville, who has lead the effort to bring clean water to the area. “Any collaboration that can get the job done faster is what we want. Hopefully, their conversation goes well and they can come to some sort of an agreement that benefits the residents.”