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‘Cautiously optimistic’ on agreement after town officials meet with Suffolk County Water Authority

Riverhead Town officials and representatives from Suffolk County Water Authority met Monday to try to find the “most effective way” to bring public water to Manorville residents who are using private wells that often have contaminated water.

Officials discussed in “broad strokes” a potential arrangement under which SCWA would supply safe drinking water to the area within the Town of Riverhead by installing approximately 3,000 feet of water main and serving those residents from its system, according to SCWA. The Town of Riverhead would pay SCWA for the work and SCWA would supply and meter the water to the neighborhood, but the area residents would be customers of the Town of Riverhead Water District.

“While funding and logistical hurdles remain, representatives from Riverhead came away cautiously optimistic that the town and SCWA together will overcome all remaining obstacles to successfully connect the balance of Manorville residents to public water,” Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said in a press release issued by SCWA Tuesday.

“The overarching goal is to supply clean, safe water to Brookhaven and Riverhead residents as soon as possible and I am hopeful we will do it collaboratively with the SCWA,” she added.

The meeting was held at Town Hall.

There are 64 homes in the Brookhaven Town portion of Manorville and 64 homes in the Riverhead Town portion that are not connected to public water. The Brookhaven homes are served by SCWA.

Jeff Szabo, SCWA’s CEO, and other members of the public utility met with town officials.

“It was a positive and productive meeting regarding bringing clean drinking water to Brookhaven and Riverhead residents of the Manorville area, whose well water has been contaminated with PFOA/PFOS,” the supervisor said.

According to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PFOA/PFOS, are “widely used, long-lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time.” Scientific studies have shown that exposure to some PFOA/PFOS in the environment may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals, according to the EPA. PFOA/PFOS have also been used in firefighting foam, which were used at the Enterprise Park at Calverton when it was leased to Grumman by the U.S. Navy.

The Navy has denied responsibility for groundwater pollution outside of the property it owned. 

Residents, meanwhile, just want clean water.

“Any collaboration that can get the job done faster is what we want,” said Kelly McClinchy of Manorville, who has led the residents’ call for public water.

“The primary concern is to do everything within our power to make sure any residents who lack a safe and reliable drinking water supply are able to gain access to one,” said SCWA chairman Patrick Halpin in the release. “We are pleased to begin work on a cooperative arrangement with Supervisor Aguiar and the Town of Riverhead to make this happen.”

Both Riverhead and SCWA have received federal grants of $3.5 million for the Manorville projects. But SCWA received an additional $2.7 million in grant money from the state. Riverhead, on the other hand, did not receive $7.5 million in grants it has applied for to use in the Manorville project. Ms. Aguiar has said the town will continue to seek other grant funding for the project.