Signs were posted in May 2021 throughout the Manorville neighborhood where residents are pressing for a public water extension. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Calverton and Manorville residents will rally Wednesday for clean water, after a joint funding request by the Suffolk County Water Authority and Riverhead Water District was denied by the state this month.

The rally is organized by Citizens Campaign for the Environment and will take place at the Manorville Fire House on Silas Carter Road at 11 a.m.

“The Thanksgiving menu for Calverton is turkey, stuffing, gravy and a side helping of toxic chemicals,” said Adrienne Esposito, the executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “PFAS chemicals are carcinogens, and the stakes are high. This community needs clean drinking water.”

Residents have argued for the last three years that the private wells servicing the homes in Riverhead Town are impacted by or threatened by chemical contaminants from the former Northrop Grumman manufacturing plant in Calverton.

Riverhead Town officials came to an agreement with Suffolk County Water Authority officials to work jointly on an extension for the 64 homes in the Riverhead Town area — the public authority was working on its own project on the Brookhaven Town side of Manorville — and executed an agreement in September. The agreement calls for the water authority to construct the extension and service the area, with Riverhead contributing its $3.5 million in earmarked congressional funding to the cost of the Riverhead side of the project, which is estimated to cost $9.5 million. The agreement was executed so the two entities could have a better chance at having their grant request funded.

MORE COVERAGE: Riverhead OKs agreement with Suffolk County Water Authority to serve Manorville area

The agreement stipulates that if Riverhead Town is unable to secure the necessary grant funding within one year from the date of the agreement with SCWA, the water authority will charge the property owners in the extension area for the cost of the installation of the water main and tap fees.

“We’re disappointed,” Riverhead Water District Superintendent Frank Mancini said regarding the grant request not being funded. “We’ll continue to work with the federal funding sources to try and solve this problem, because that really is our only option.”

Mark Woolley, Rep. Lee Zeldin’s district manager, said previously he is “fairly confident” that Riverhead will receive money for the project in next year’s federal grant process.

The town received $1,320,000 for wellhead treatment for removal of contaminants at water district well 5, which is located in the Northville Turnpike and Middle Road area, according to Mancini. The water is contaminated with PFAS and manganese, although the level of the contamination is just at the drinking water standard, he said.

The Suffolk County Water Authority also received funding for four different projects.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: alek@riverheadlocal.com