Riverhead Town has come up short on federal and state funding requests to cover two water district extensions to serve homes with private wells in the vicinity of the former Northrop Grumman facility in Calverton.
The town sought federal funding of $9 million to cover the combined cost of the two extensions — one to serve 64 homes in Manorville south of the former Grumman site at a cost of $5.85 million and the other to serve 26 homes in Calverton south and east of the site, at a cost of $3.1 million. Homes in both areas have had various contaminants, including the perfluorinated compounds PFOS and PFOA, as well as MTBE and other chemicals, detected in their private wells.
But Riverhead received only $3.5 million in federal funding through the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s State and Tribal Assistance Grant, which was part of the massive $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill passed in Congress last month.
This week, the town learned its grant application to the State’e Environmental Facilities Corp. for water infrastructure funding was passed over. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced $638 million in water infrastructure improvement grants on Tuesday.
Riverhead Community Development Director Dawn Thomas said yesterday the town would apply again for state assistance.
Another round of state water infrastructure funding could open for applications as soon as next month.
Meanwhile, the water district is working to determine how it can best spend the $3.5 million in Manorville, Water District Superintendent Frank Mancini said. District consulting engineers are in the field in Manorville H2M doing design and marking the streets, he said. H2M will draft recommendations to the board on how the $3.5 million can best be spent in Manorville.
Mancini said he believes the cost of the project will actually be about $7 million, rather than the $5.8 million estimate initially worked up by H2M, because there is a high-pressure gas line in the road.
“You can’t put these utilities on top of each other. So that’s going to increase our costs — because if you’re gonna put [the pipe] in the road, then you’ve got to restore the road. So that’s what we’re trying to figure out right now,” Mancini said in a phone interview today.
With $3.5 million, the water district can extend the water to some of the homes there, but not all of them, Mancini said.
Federal elected officials have asked the Navy to fund the cost of the water district extensions, because some PFOS and PFOA have been detected on the former Grumman site as well as south of the fence line — and in private drinking water wells. The Navy has consistently said it is not responsible for contamination off-site.
‘Possibly a good and helpful sign’
Mancini and other town officials were optimistic about a recent request by a Navy official for copies of the maps and plans the town had H2M complete to prepare for the extensions.
“We took that as possibly a good and helpful sign,” Deputy Town Attorney Ann Marie Prudenti said at the town board meeting Tuesday. The town took the opportunity to again ask the Navy for funding, she said.
Mancini said today the town had not heard anything further since providing the Navy official with the maps and plans for the two extensions on April 11.
A Navy spokesperson today told RiverheadLOCAL the Navy asked for those documents “because future cleanup activities, like the installation of groundwater monitoring wells, may need to occur in the area where the [town’s water] line is being constructed, and knowing the exact location of such underground infrastructure may be helpful to the Navy in the future.”
The Suffolk County Water Authority is preparing to extend a water main to 64 parcels in Manorville that are within the Town of Brookhaven. The water authority got the same $3.5 million in federal funding from the omnibus spending bill that the town was awarded. But SCWA also received $2.7 million in a water infrastructure grant from the State Environmental Facilities Corp. The state grant for the Manorville extension was one of dozens of water infrastructure grants announced by the governor Tuesday. The Town of Brookhaven is contributing $2 million to fund hookups for homeowners, said Suffolk County Water Authority Community Outreach Coordinator Seth Wallach.
Manorville resident Kelly McClinchy, who has led the charge for public water to serve the area south of the former Grumman site, expressed frustration that Manorville residents in the Town of Riverhead are still in limbo.
“It’s shameful that the community closest to the site of the contamination gets overlooked,” McClinchy said.
The water authority initially offered to pursue funding to extend their mains into the Town of Riverhead to serve the 64 homes Manorville homes on the Riverhead side of the town line. But Riverhead Town officials bristled at the idea and shortly thereafter authorized the map and plan for an extension of the Riverhead Water District to serve those homes — something McClinchy and other area residents had been requesting for years.
“Riverhead has been so headstrong all along that they are able to provide the water,” McClinchy said in an interview Wednesday.
“Now Brookhaven is covered,” she said. “They’re probably going to have their water some time this summer. And we’re sitting here waiting and wondering.”
Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the environmental advocacy organization Citizens Campaign for the Environment, has renewed her call to Schumer for financial assistance for Riverhead.
Thanks to federal funding and the state grant announced this week, “clean water is on its way to Brookhaven residents,” Esposito wrote. “However, Riverhead residents are still in limbo and still have no clear timeline for access to clean water,” Esposito told the senator.
– Alek Lewis contributed reporting.
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