The Southampton Town Board voted unanimously at its January 8 meeting to set aside $4 million in Community Preservation Fund revenue to extend water mains in East Quogue. Contaminants had been detected in private wells there last year, and the funds will connect homes to public water.
In February, the state Department of Environmental Conservation found the chemical perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, commonly known as PFOS, at levels 150 times the federal health advisory limit at the former Damascus Road landfill in East Quogue. The testing was conducted as part of a broader state investigation into how pollution from closed landfills affects groundwater. PFOS and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) were detected in 45 private wells in the hamlet. Health effects associated with the chemicals include liver damage, decreased fertility, developmental delays in fetuses and children, and possibly cancer, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill last month allowing the CPF, which is financed through a two percent tax on real estate transfers, be used to build water mains in areas affected by drinking water contamination. Public water, unlike private wells, is regularly monitored and must meet drinking water standards.
The estimated $1.2 million cost for water main extensions, $800,000 charges and associated tapping fees, and $2 million to connect homes to newly-extended and existing water mains in the area brings the total to $4 million, which is what the board approved at the meeting.
Southampton has applied for a New York State Water Quality Improvement Grant, which would cover 60 percent, or $1.2 million, of the total $2 million cost for water main extensions, and surcharges and associated tapping fees. If awarded, the town’s portion of the grant would be 40 percent, or approximately $800,000, thereby reducing the $4 million to $2.8 million.
Southampton also tabled two top resolutions at its town board meeting pending further review. The first, a highly-anticipated vote on the purchase of Hampton Bays’ Bel-Aire Cove Motel for either CPF purchase or community development, was postponed to January 22. All eight residents that spoke during a public hearing on acquiring the property were in favor of the CPF purchase. Also postponed was a vote on amending Town Code Chapter 270 (rental properties) to provide for additional affordable housing throughout the town. The accessory apartments changes to the law are pending a State Environmental Quality Review Act impact study.