May 10, 2022 12:00 PM

Officials from the Suffolk County Water Authority and Town of Riverhead met yesterday to discuss ways to work together to bring safe public water to a neighborhood in Manorville within the Towns of Brookhaven and Riverhead where private wells have been impacted by PFOA/PFOS contamination.

Though many details still need to be worked out, both sides left the meeting optimistic that working together would be the most effective means of connecting the neighborhood to public water as quickly as possible. In total, there are 64 residences in Brookhaven and 64 residences in Riverhead within the impacted area.

“I want to thank Jeff Szabo and members of the SCWA team for meeting with us at Town Hall this morning,” said Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar. “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.

“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. 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,” Aguiar said.

“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. “We are pleased to begin work on a cooperative arrangement with Supervisor Aguiar and the Town of Riverhead to make this happen.”

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. 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.

SCWA is in the planning stages of the Brookhaven portion of the project. The Town of Riverhead and SCWA were each recently awarded $3.5 million in federal grant funds for the Manorville projects, respectively. SCWA and Town of Riverhead officials are exploring ways to pursue both aspects of the project under a single bid to potentially save money.

PFOA/PFOS, according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fact sheet, are “widely used, long lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time. Because of their widespread use and their persistence in the environment, many PFOA/PFOS are found in the blood of people and animals all over the world and are present at low levels in a variety of food products and in the environment.

“PFOA/PFOS are found in water, air, fish, and soil at locations across the nation and the globe. Scientific studies have shown that exposure to some PFOA/PFOS in the environment may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals.”

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