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Dec 19, 2018 11:30 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Water District Officials Speak Out Against SCWA Proposal To Manage Local Water

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. VALERIE GORDON
Dec 20, 2018 9:42 PM

Hampton Bays Water District officials spoke in opposition to the Suffolk County Water Authority’s proposal to manage the locally owned water district on Tuesday.

At the second and final public hearing to discuss the proposed merger, which was held in the Hampton Bays High School auditorium and attended largely by those in favor of keeping the district local, the district’s superintendent, Robert King, offered his rationale for opposing the merger.

Additionally, at the meeting, Southampton Town Board members announced that they are looking at the possibility of putting the decision in the hands of local residents, through a public referendum—if it is legal to do so. In response to an overwhelming number of district customers requesting a vote, Southampton Town Attorney James Burke said he was trying to work out the details.

Town Board members are also considering hiring the SCWA in some sort of contract consulting capacity, rather than the originally proposed agreement to have it take over and manage the day-to-day operations of the district. Under such a contract, the authority would extend its expertise, mainly in water testing, using its in-house Hauppauge-based laboratory, which the water authority’s CEO, Jeff Szabo, has boasted can turn around results in as little as 48 hours.

The original agreement, which includes $6.1 million in infrastructure upgrades to be spread out among the authority’s 1.2 million customers, would essentially dissolve the operations of the water district, but the infrastructure would continue to be owned by the district and the Town Board would continue to serve as commissioners of the district. The commissioners would also continue to set the water consumption rate for residents.

Discussions between the Town Board and the authority began in July after district customers suffered from inconsistent water pressure and discoloration issues, which, according to testing by water authority lab technicians, was caused by iron and manganese in the district’s water supply.

However, at Tuesday night’s meeting, Mr. King disputed those findings with a July report from Pace Analytical, a Melville-based firm that conducts all of the district’s water testing, which reported “very minimal” amounts of manganese in the water.

“We do not have a manganese problem,” Mr. King said, noting that the discoloration was caused by residual iron in the pipes.

In 2017, Mr King was forced to shut down three of the district’s 11 wells due to contamination of two chemicals—perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, or PFOS, and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA.

Those issues were resolved in late July after the district’s wells were turned back on after a $1 million carbon filtration system was installed. According to Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, the filtration system is removing all traces of the two chemicals.

“We got a really bad rap this year because we had three wells that were down, which put a main demand on our system,” Mr. King said on Tuesday. “As soon as the wells came back, the water rates for dirty water dropped.”

During that time, the superintendent explained that the district reached out to the authority and opened up one interconnection along Peconic Road and water pressure dropped even further. “It would be a big help for SCWA if they took us over—because they’d be using our 11 wells,” he said.

That concern was brought up by several local residents, including Ray D’Angelo, who argued that the authority would ship the district’s water to cover demand elsewhere.

The authority’s deputy CEO for operations, Joseph Pokorney, however, said water wells typically can serve only customers within a one- or two-mile radius of the well. “We are not capable of shipping water long distance,” he said. “What you’re talking about is physically impossible.”

Regardless, the majority of those who attended Tuesday night’s meeting were strongly opposed to the merger—many of them, including Mr. King, taking pride in the locally owned and operated water district.

“We take everything to heart here,” Mr. King said. “We’re the ones you see in the supermarket. We’re home people. We’re here for the people of Hampton Bays.”

Hampton Bays resident Laura Smith compared the number of wells in Hampton Bays to the number of wells operated by the authority.

Hampton Bays has 11 wells, which serve 6,400 customers, whereas the authority has roughly 500 wells serving 1.2 million customers. That’s 582 customers per well, as opposed to 2,000 customers per well, she said, adding, “I like those numbers better.”

As for infrastructure upgrades, at the previous public meeting, Southampton Town Comptroller Leonard Marchese said taxpayers would likely see an $80 increase in their annual property tax bill, over the life of a 15-year bond, to cover the costs locally—an added cost that many residents said that they would be happy to absorb.

“I would rather see whatever it costs to maintain Hampton Bays’s water supply—that Hampton Bays bears the weight of whatever cost it is,” Hampton Bays resident Robert Tyson said.

Regarding the new idea to hire the authority as a consultant, Thomas Villano said, “I’d rather spend a couple extra dollars to have them test our water. Put a meeting of the minds together.”

In response, Mr. Schneiderman noted that it’s “worthy of exploration.”

He added that Hampton Bays residents will soon receive hard-copy questionnaires in the mail, asking whether they are in favor or opposed to the merger. From there, a vote could possibly held.

“My preference is to have a vote on this,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “If we can legally do it, we will do it.”

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"Joseph Pokorney, however, said water wells typically can serve only customers within a one- or two-mile radius of the well. " - with regards to this response, no one said that the water would flow for miles. The fact remains that it would be used in a 1-2 mile radius of the well, which would affect the water pressure. It isn't the distance it is that fact that our water would be flowing out of HB. Consider how many homes are with that radius of our borders. He is saying that wouldn't affect ...more
By bb (909), Hampton Bays on Dec 19, 18 2:06 PM
Let's be very clear about why the HBWD management is against this. HBWD, like SCWA, is a dumping ground of political patronage positions. They are fighting to keep their place at the trough.
By bird (824), Sag Harbor on Dec 19, 18 2:27 PM
3 members liked this comment
Who has been appointed to what positions and what do they pay?
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Dec 19, 18 3:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
Mr. King states that: “We’re the ones you see in the supermarket." Really? We should choose who manages our water supply by who we see at the supermarket? This is the best reason he can come up with as to why we shouldn't let the expert team at SCWA manage our water?
By Bayman (55), Hampton Bays on Dec 19, 18 3:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
He was making a threat. "You see me in the supermarket" also means "I see you in the supermarket and know where you live."

Please have an independent auditor the books of the Hampton Bays Water Department and the Hampon Bays Fire Deparment. In particular, I would like to know how much the laundry on Montauk Highway pays for its commercial water bill compared to other large users of water in our district..

I would also like to see the explanation of why the Hampton Bays School ...more
By dfree (803), hampton bays on Dec 19, 18 3:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
He was pointing out that he was local, The same kind of local guy who has been a volunteer ff for as many years as I can recall.
All of the information you want can be obtained by filing FOILs. Do it yourself.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Dec 19, 18 3:25 PM
No, that wasn't actually the reason one. He was, as But I'm a Blank said, pointing out that he is a local. With all the recent campaigns to Buy Local, Support Local, etc., it seems odd that now we want to give this local entity to a large conglomerate. Personally, I like knowing that when I have a problem, the person on the other end of the phone actually knows where I am. That goes for other services as well.

Making a threat? That's a joke, right?

I'm not sure what your various ...more
By bb (909), Hampton Bays on Dec 19, 18 5:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
Keep the HB Water District and give them the resources necessary to run
our district effectively.
By Jimion (129), Hampton Bays on Dec 19, 18 5:29 PM
3 members liked this comment
I say all the repairs/maintenance/improvements should be paid for out of the community preservation funds.
By summer2001 (8), Hampton Bays on Jan 13, 19 11:35 AM
It's corrupt! Time for them to get an audit! Mr Booth is now on a paid 3 week luxury vacation! Mr King will soon take his 3 month paid vacation! SCWA needs to run that place!
By Bugal (14), Hampton Bays on Dec 19, 18 6:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
Town employees accrue lots of time. That doesn't mean it is corrupt. Have you checked Town Hall to see who is taking how much time off there? How about the County? The School? The State? Any long time employee with a strong union has plenty of time. Have you verified what the employee benefits are for SCWA?

Your 'reasons' for wanting SCWA sound more like grudges. You really have to do better than that if you expect anyone to take you seriously.
By bb (909), Hampton Bays on Dec 19, 18 6:33 PM
2 members liked this comment
The point is the HB water district has been mismanaged the commissioners could replace Mr king and Mr. Booth. We do not have to give this very valuable taxpayer own asset. Would Saudi Arabia give up its oil wells. Water is more valuable then oil. The east end estates need more and more of it to supply their irrigation systems. SCWA wants our prolific wells we will be paying more for our own water.
By HB salvation (24), Hampton bays on Dec 19, 18 10:56 PM
I was thinking this same thing. There are quite a few people employed by the water district yet a few keep complaining about the same two individuals. We are going to sell the water district due to two people that some think aren't doing their job?

By bb (909), Hampton Bays on Dec 20, 18 7:52 AM
1 member liked this comment
Also, through the years has the HBWD been denied requests for financial assistance (budget) to correct the problems?
By Resident tax (183), Hampton bays ny on Dec 20, 18 10:02 AM
The water district is a disaster why on earth is this a debate?
By chief1 (2783), southampton on Dec 20, 18 1:08 AM
Please elaborate.
By bb (909), Hampton Bays on Dec 20, 18 7:53 AM
Mr king used the town owned truck on quail run in hb doing one of his side sprinkler jobs ,and was"t he part of the fire department that polluted or wells . as for the vacation time and insurance how many of us have therse benifits NONE! it is time to eliminate the insanity, there is no task a town csea employee does that can't do with private contractors. the town workers work unsafe. how many times have you seen any hightway,park or capital crew work with eye ear and head protection again ...more
By tinboat (17), hampton bays on Dec 20, 18 4:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yes I couldn't agree more. Taxes on top of taxes with nothing for them -- a $300 million hospital to be built on free land by the State government with LESS hospital beds than the existing one -- all for free healthcare for Town and School and Water and Police employees while the rest of us scramble to pay for it all. And then when they retire, they take their pension benefits and head for Florida, or in the case of the Water Department they head for Florida, before, during and after they earn ...more
By dfree (803), hampton bays on Dec 20, 18 4:53 PM
Boo hoo poor you. You really sound very jealous. Most of the town employees do not receive a living wage.
By sgt202 (75), Hampton Bays on Dec 24, 18 10:09 AM
sgt202 - I suspect that you are correct about some town employees since there are school aides with college degrees making $20,000 with no pension, but then there are administrators making 10X - 15X as much with full benefits and pension. I suspect dfree is referring to those. "Back in the day and still in NYC, those with defined benefit plans" made less then private sector with no pension. Now on LI, that has shifted and causing the middle class (unless you work for the municipalities or schools) ...more
By G.A.Lombardi (548), Hampton Bays on Dec 24, 18 11:09 AM
Just watched the HBWD meeting on channel 22, also can be watched on youtube. What a Liar!!! Mr. King said he did not have dirty brown water on the the day of the day of the problem? Fact is he was in Florida and we live on the south side of town and had brown water! But he would never have that problem anyway, because he's rich enough to afford the best filtration system!!!
By Bugal (14), Hampton Bays on Dec 21, 18 3:27 PM
I don't know the WD workers personally but I think if a mgr/superintendent is needed Mr. Mc Cuen would run the district well as he knows a lot about the running of the WD. As for the administration part, he will lean with the help of the admin. Assistant. Just sayin.
By Resident tax (183), Hampton bays ny on Dec 22, 18 12:11 PM
Correction: he will learn
By Resident tax (183), Hampton bays ny on Dec 22, 18 12:13 PM
The HB water district is run by a bunch of back slapping locals. If these selfish employees think they are doing a good job they are crazy. This is about people health brackish water is unacceptable
By chief1 (2783), southampton on Dec 22, 18 12:47 PM
1 member liked this comment
And what about the businesses that have extra costs due to the black water? DId they have compensation for their loss when they paid their water bill? Read on....

A lady attending the latest Water Meeting said that when she called HB Water in July about her black water,, “Keep your cleaning bills and deduct from your water bill.””
How nice! Did anyone else get that message? Answer is NO! Favoritism of customers!!!! Sounds like an audit is needed! Are they ...more
By Red Flag (51), Southampton on Dec 22, 18 8:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
I don't know Mr King, but what are his qualifications to run the water district? Might be time for better supervision???
By knitter (1895), Southampton on Jan 4, 19 12:46 PM
His qualifications? Oh his cousin was a bonacker.

Thats good enough in these parts.
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Jan 4, 19 1:40 PM
Yes yes bub
By Fred s (3178), Southampton on Jan 4, 19 1:53 PM
I am a full time resident of Hampton Bays, I graduated from HBJSHS, yest that's going back before the Junior High was built. Nasty comments are unnecessary. Do your research on SCWA, and decide if you want a political ARM of the NYS Legislature, managing your water, or local people who drink the same water. Regardless if the go on vacation or not.

The very simple fact is the equipment will not change, improvements that can be made from the Community preservation fund much like the $$ ...more
By summer2001 (8), Hampton Bays on Jan 13, 19 11:30 AM
power tools, home improvements, building supplies, Eastern Long Island