Featured Story

Riverhead Town to enter agreement with SCWA to connect Manorville homes to clean water

Riverhead Town plans to formally collaborate with the Suffolk County Water Authority in providing clean water for Manorville residents with contaminated private wells, bringing residents one step closer to a long-sought resolution.

According to an agreement distributed at Wednesday’s Town Board meeting, water would be provided to properties with private wells that have or may become contaminated with contaminants in concentrations greater than permitted by drinking water regulations.

“I just got off the phone about 10 minutes ago with the Suffolk County Water Authority and it appears that we have reached a resolution to hook up Manorville,” Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said at the beginning of the meeting. “We will be providing funds to them as we get them. After 20 years, the water district was not well-served due to possible PFOS and PFOA … We’re going to move forward in a positive sense.”

The town and SCWA face a Friday deadline to apply for state grants.

The application shows more “support and proof that we’re working with an intermunicipal agreement with Suffolk County Water Authority, and that they have the ability … to provide water and resources under construction to those homes in that area,” said Councilman Ken Rothwell. “I think this is a great step to prove that we will now have the ability to get pipes in the ground.” 

Contaminated water in the area is often blamed on the Navy-owned Enterprise Park in Calverton. It was formerly leased to Grumman Corporation, which used it for aircraft manufacturing and testing. The Navy has denied responsibility for groundwater pollution outside of the property it owned.  

“We continue to work with Riverhead Town officials on finalizing this important agreement, and are reviewing an amended version they sent us this afternoon,” said Jeffrey Szabo, CEO of SCWA, in an emailed statement. “Additionally, in order to make sure the community is in the best position to receive more funds for the project from New York State, SCWA and Riverhead Town plan to individually apply for grant funding prior to the state’s Sept. 9 grant submission deadline.”

Joe Pokorny, the Suffolk County Water Authority deputy chief executive officer for operations, making a presentation during a water forum at Riverhead Town Hall earlier this year. (Credit: Bob Liepa)

Last year Riverhead received $3.5 million in federal funding that would go toward the nearly $9.5 million project to hook up the affected Manorville properties. The town is seeking additional sources of funding, according to a resolution approved Wednesday, and has completed draft applications for funding through the WIIA grant program, which is run by the state to help municipalities fund water quality infrastructure projects.

“It’s a milestone,” said community leader Kelly McClinchy. “It definitely gives us peace of mind that when the town submits this grant application on Friday, there should be no issue with the DEC looking at any capacity problems.”

“Everybody deserves clean water and Manorville does as well,” she added. 

According to the passed resolution, the town wants SCWA to expedite the process by starting improvements while grant funds are pending. The extension area is not within the Riverhead Water District and the district lacks a state Department of Environmental Conservation public water supply permit to serve the area, although it intends to apply for one.

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.

The town agreed to pay “a proportionate share” of grant funding toward the cost of the water main extension, upon submission of paid invoices to the town’s Department of Finance. If the town does not achieve full funding for actual costs within a certain time period, SCWA will charge identified properties a water main surcharge.

If the town achieves full funding within the agreed time period, SCWA will support the town’s application for a permit authorizing the incorporation of Manorville into the water district. The water improvement in the town would be conveyed to the water district upon payment of the remaining amounts due.