Town of Riverhead officials are steaming mad at the Suffolk County Water Authority after the agency’s leadership criticized the town’s ability to provide drinking water to homes with private wells in Calverton and Manorville.
In the same letter that SCWA said it is “ready, willing and able” to pipe in water to the homes, it also suggested that the Riverhead Water District is too inexperienced and ill-equipped to cost-effectively connect the homes — a characterization that drew the ire of town leaders.
“This would not be the optimal solution,” SCWA CEO Jeffrey Szabo wrote in a letter to the Secretary of the Navy requesting federal funds for the connections since the former Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant in Calverton is suspected of contaminating the private wells.
“The Riverhead Water District employs only a handful of full-time employees with no significant experience managing a project the size and scope of the Calverton/Manorville area.”
SWCA said it will cost $12.15 million to connect 128 homes in the area, many of which fall in the Town of Brookhaven, which the agency said is outside of the Riverhead Water District’s territory. The northeast corner of Manorville does fall within the Riverhead town border.
“The quality and reputation of personnel (some of whom were once employed and held key roles at the SCWA) … is insulting and quite frankly, unfounded and untrue,” Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said in response to SCWA, noting she was shocked by the letter. “An attack criticizing the water district and an assumption of ineptitude will not be taken lightly. We will defend and protect our water district!”
The town is expected to vote on Jan. 20 to expand the water district’s map to include impacted homes.