Suffolk County Water Authority officials at a press conference this morning in Hauppauge assured residents in the vicinity of parks recently found to be sites allegedly containing hazardous materials that their drinking water supply is perfectly safe while also addressing potential long-term ramifications of any contaminants found.
“It’s important, first and foremost, for residents to know that their water supply is absolutely safe to drink,” said SCWA Chairman James F. Gaughran, who noted that the authority has received numerous calls from concerned residents. “But we also want to shed light on the impact any contaminants found may have years down the road. SCWA assures the public that if contaminants are found that compromise our underground water supply, we will aggressively go after those responsible and make them pay for their actions.”
Gaughran explained at the press conference that SCWA officials currently estimate that ten wells at three wellfields could be impacted by the contaminants in future years, if contaminants are found to be present at all six sites under investigation. The three wellfields are Harvest Lane in West Islip, which could be impacted by any contamination found at the park at 175 Brook Avenue, Deer Park; Belmore Avenue in Islip Terrace, which could be impacted by any contamination found at the Town of Islip baseball fields on Eastview Drive in Central Islip; and Old Nichols Road, which could be impacted by any contamination found at Veteran’s Way, Islandia. SCWA officials, though, said any contaminants would take approximately 25 years to show up in groundwater at those sites.
Gaughran said the authority would be sending a letter in the coming days to residents of Brentwood, Central Islip and Islandia to assure them that their water is safe to drink. He added that the authority would be actively participating in reviewing any information that comes to light about contaminants included in the debris. He said he had already spoken to Acting Town of Islip Supervisor Eric Hofmeister, who assured him that SCWA officials would be invited to remediation discussions to make sure whatever cleanup is deemed necessary includes actions to make sure SCWA wells are never impacted.
Gaughran was joined at the press conference by SCWA Board Member Mario Mattera; Town of Islip Councilman Steven Flotteron; Town of Islip Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt; Town of Islip Councilman John Cochrane, Jr.; SCWA Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Operations Joe Pokorny; SCWA Chief of Sustainability Carrie Meek Gallagher; SCWA Director of Water Quality and Laboratory Services Karen Randazzo; and SCWA Water Resource Manager Steve Colabufo.
“We’re all working together to make sure our park and environment are safe and healthy for everyone,” said Councilman Flotteron.
Suffolk County Legislator Monica Martinez, whose district covers a portion of the affected sites, was at a general meeting of the Legislature and therefore unable to attend the press conference. She said the following in a prepared statement: "I would like to thank the SCWA for their assistance and cooperation in testing our waters due to residents' concerns on the illegal dumping of toxins at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood and in Central Islip,” said Martinez in a prepared statement. “The testing of our waters should be a long-term project as affects of the toxins will not show up for years. I am urging my colleagues at all levels of government and on both sides of the aisle to work together in finding solutions to this grave situation our residents are facing."
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.