East Quogue residents now have access to clean, safe drinking water thanks to the completion of a project installing new water mains.
Suffolk County Water Authority announced last week it added more than 10,800 feet of new lines, plus service connections from the street up to the 115 homes that were impacted by private well contamination.
“More than half those homes are now connected,” Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said. “It’s a big, successful project. We’re doing our part to make sure people in that area are confident when they drink their water.”
Including the connections, the project cost approximately $1.9 million. A state grant, coming in just under $1.06 million, partially funded the project, with the rest paid for through the Town of Southampton’s Community Preservation Fund, 20 percent of which can be used toward water quality improvement projects. The town and the water authority applied for the state grant jointly.
“Making sure Suffolk County residents have access to safe, potable water has been our mission for 68 years, and that will never change,” Suffolk County Water Authority Chairman Patrick Halpin said.
Private well testing conducted by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services in 2018 showed elevated levels of the unregulated contaminants perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, commonly known as PFOS, and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA. Studies indicate that PFOA and PFOS can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals. Both chemicals have caused tumors in animals. The most consistent findings are increased cholesterol levels among exposed populations, with more limited findings related to low infant birth weights, effects on the immune system, cancer (for PFOA), and thyroid hormone disruption (for PFOS), according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
These organic chemicals have been used in treatments to protect carpets, clothing, furniture fabrics, paper packaging for food, and nonstick cookware. They are also found in firefighting foams. These compounds leach into the aquifer over time, contaminating Long Island’s sole source of drinking water.
In response to the findings, the Town of Southampton implemented a public drinking water infrastructure improvement program, which allowed residents with contaminated private water to switch to public, filtered water at no cost. The homes were provided bottled water while the switchover was made possible through the SCWA project and the state allowance of CPF money being used to help cover the cost.
Suffolk County Water Authority, an independent public-benefit corporation that has a customer base of 1.2 million, said it’s connecting more homes every day. It is also in the process of installing an additional 2300 feet of new water main on Lewis Road — immediately adjacent to the existing project area — to connect another 11 properties.
“Our staff works incredibly hard to make sure our water meets or exceeds all standards for quality and safety, and that includes the removal of PFOS and PFOA,” said Jeff Szabo, CEO of the SCWA. The water is constantly tested for approximately 400 chemical compounds, including PFOS and PFOA, and internal benchmarks for quality exceed state and federal water standards.
In the absence of a federal standard from the EPA, the New York State Department of Health announced it will soon enact new state drinking water standards for PFOS and PFOA of 10 parts per trillion. The SCWA removes these compounds from drinking water using a granular activated carbon treatment.
“I appreciate the efforts of Suffolk County Department of Health Services in its vigilance to protect Long Island’s groundwater and to ensure Long Islanders have a safe drinking water supply with a rigorous program of groundwater monitoring and testing,” Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming said. “Because so many Suffolk County households rely on private wells, the work is especially challenging and at the same time critically important.”