At a press event at the Suffolk County Water Authority Education Center in Hauppauge on December 12th, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the latest round of award for the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (WIIA), a program that seeks to support waste and drinking water providers with funds to improve infrastructure. With more than $479 million in grants awards being announced, this was the largest WIIA grant period in the New York State history. $14 million will go to SCWA projects that seek to remove emerging contaminants from drinking water and connect homes on private wells that have been impacted by PFAS.
SCWA Chairman Charlie Lefkowitz joined Governor Hochul for the announcement, saying “On behalf of the 1.2 million customers we serve, I want to thank Governor Hochul for this tremendously important investment in drinking water. A hundred years from now, people are going to look back at what we do today, and they will say that we got it right. High quality drinking doesn’t just happen. It takes smart investment, careful stewardship and the will to do the right thing. That is what are doing here in Suffolk County with the partnership from the state.”
SCWA was awarded $11.7 million for projects to remove emerging contaminants from drinking water. The funding will partially pay for 11 new Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) treatment systems for PFAS at wells across Suffolk County. Two new Advanced Oxidation Process (AOP) treatment systems to remove 1,4-dioxane will also be installed at wells in Centereach.
Another $2.3 million will go to projects to extend more than three miles of new water main to connect up to 135 homes to high quality public water. Homes that currently get their drinking water from private wells in areas of Medford, East Patchogue, Bellport and Calverton have been impacted by contamination from PFAS. With these grants, SCWA will be able to extend new water main to serve these homes at significantly reduced cost to residents.
“There are still about 25,000 homes in Suffolk County that use private wells to source their drinking water,” added Chief Executive Officer Jeff Szabo. “Many of them are at serious risk because of PFAS. We are always looking for sources of grant funding to reduce the cost of connecting for new customers. SCWA offers long term financing that makes it affordable to residents to connect, giving them the peace of mind that they will have safe drinking water.”
The WIIA program pays up to 60% of allowable project costs for approved projects. The remaining 40% must be paid by the grant recipient. This WIIA grant period is the first one to be bolstered by the latest Environmental Bond Act, which was approved by voters in 2022. The bill pledges $4.2 billion for environmental projects across the state, with a portion being solely dedicated to drinking water.
The Suffolk County Water Authority is an independent public-benefit corporation operating under the authority of the Public Authorities Law of the State of New York. Serving approximately 1.2 million Suffolk County residents, the Authority operates without taxing power on a not-for-profit basis.