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Jul 9, 2018 4:47 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Suffolk County Water Authority Lays Out Plan For Water Main Work In Wainscott

Joseph Pokorny, deputy CEO for operations of the Suffolk County Water Authority, speaking at the Wainscott CAC meeting last Saturday. JON WINKLER
Jul 10, 2018 2:38 PM

The Suffolk County Water Authority hopes to begin installing new water mains in Wainscott within the next few weeks, laying out its plans to both the Town of East Hampton and the Wainscott community as part of the town’s effort to deal with contaminated water wells.

Last Thursday, July 5, the East Hampton Town Board approved an agreement with the SCWA to install new water mains in Wainscott to service 520 homes in the district. This is meant for residents who are concerned or have confirmed that their private water wells have been contaminated with the perfluorinated compounds PFOS and PFOA.

According to the Suffolk County Health Department, 376 wells have been tested for the compounds as of last week, with 164 found to have traces of the chemicals, and 13 of those wells with levels above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s lifetime health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.

Joseph Pokorny, deputy CEO for operations for the water authority, gave a presentation of the organization’s plan to the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee on Saturday.

The issue has been a priority for the CAC since the compounds were first detected south of the East Hampton Airport in October 2017. Since then, the number of contaminated wells has spread as far south as Beach Lane and west of Town Line Road in Southampton Town.

According to Mr. Pokorny, the project will be split into three phases. The first phase would involve digging into Wainscott roads and installing nearly 48,000 feet of water main, work the SCWA contracted out to Road Work Construction for $5.8 million.

Once the water mains are installed, they will need to be connected to the affected homes. The contract for that phase has been awarded to Asplundh Construction for about $12 million, according to Mr. Pokorny. After that work is completed, the roadways will be repaved and restored.

On Monday, Mr. Pokorny said the scope of that final phase has not yet been determined. He clarified that the work could be done by the water authority’s annual contractor or could be the responsibility of the Town of East Hampton.

“The town may decide to do that themselves,” he said. “They may want to do improvements in that area, like sidewalks.”

Despite the uncertainty of the final phase, Mr. Pokorny said that it would not keep the project from beginning. He added that if the first two phases of the project are completed without determining who would complete the third phase, temporary asphalt would be laid on the roads to offer more time for a determination to be made.

One element that could slow the project, he noted, is the ability to contact part-time residents. He added that the water authority must get homeowners’ permission to go on their properties and connect their homes to the new water mains, which could prove troublesome for residents who only reside in their Wainscott homes occasionally and take longer to respond to the requests. He said on Monday that the water authority will hook up the homes of any residents looking to be hooked up.

Before worker boots hit Wainscott pavement, Mr. Pokorny said that the vendors who were awarded the contracts must provide some final documents to the water authority. While the water authority hopes to start working within the next couple of weeks, no definite start date has been set for the project.

He estimates that the first phase of the project should take about three months. Since the second phase is mostly dependent on the reaction of homeowners, Mr. Pokorny estimated that the process would take about six months or longer. He added that the third phase would take about a month.

He said that the town will be paying for the entire project, estimated at $24 million, through an ad valorem tax on town residents. This means that once the project is complete and the final cost of the work is presented to the town, the town will compensate the water authority and recover its money through the tax.

The water authority board was slated to hold a special meeting on Tuesday, July 10, ratifying the agreement with the town and is now planning to submit an application to the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation for an intermunicipal grant for drinking water infrastructure of up to $10 million, or 40 percent of the project. The grant would only a cover the water main connection portion of the project, with the town covering whatever costs remained.

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