Congress is expected to pass a spending package this week that includes $2 million for public water extensions for homes in Riverhead serviced by private water wells contaminated by harmful chemicals.
The money, through the Environmental Protection Agency’s State and Tribal Assistance Grant, was earmarked in both chambers of Congress by Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Lee Zeldin as a part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Community Project Funding grant program.
The request for funding totaled $6,468,800, according to Zeldin’s letter to the House Appropriations Committee, although the final package revealed by congressional leadership on Monday includes only $2 million. The 4,155-page spending bill, which also includes a boost to military aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia and an overhaul of the Electoral Count Act, is expected to pass this week, according to the New York Times.
The money would be the second round of federal funding to come to Riverhead for clean water projects; Riverhead received $3.5 million for clean water projects from the federal program earlier this year as a part of another government spending bill.
Riverhead officials said the federal funds will be split proportionately between Riverhead Water District extension projects in Calverton and in Manorville, the latter of which is in partnership with Suffolk County Water Authority under an agreement reached in September to fund an extension project in the hamlet in homes in both the towns of Riverhead and Brookhaven. The Riverhead cost of the Manorville project is an estimated $9.5 million, while the other extension projects in Calverton also cost an estimated $9.5 million.
Kelly McClinchy, a resident on the Riverhead side of Manorville who has been advocating for a public water extension to the area, said she is “extremely hopeful the bill will pass.”
“There is overwhelming community support for clean water. We are looking forward to 2023 and hoping it will be a new beginning in providing clean water access for residents,” she said.
Riverhead Water District Superintendent Frank Mancini said he is “thrilled” that Riverhead’s projects were included in the final spending bill.
“We’re grateful to Senator Schumer and Congressman Zeldin for giving us the things that we need,” Riverhead Community Development Director Dawn Thomas said. “Of course, we will need more to make the projects go, but we’re getting there.”
Thomas said she has hope that in the next few months, the town will receive more grants for clean water projects.
“There’s no holiday gift like the gift of clean, drinking water! If the bill passes, this will be a gift appreciated by generations to come,” Adrienne Esposito, a clean water advocate and executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, wrote in a message. ”We really appreciate Senator Schumer being our clean water champion.”
Zeldin said on Twitter this week that he would not vote for the spending bill. He said in another tweet that the “appropriations process in Congress is broken.”
The survival of local journalism depends on your support.
We are a small family-owned operation. You rely on us to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Just a few dollars can help us continue to bring this important service to our community.
Support RiverheadLOCAL today.