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May 10, 2019 12:50 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Water District Discusses Options To Address High Iron And Manganese Levels In Drinking Water

The Town Board met with HBWD officials on Thursday to discuss plans for the future. VALERIE GORDON
May 14, 2019 12:24 PM

The Hampton Bays Water District’s fourth well field, located along Bellows Pond Road near Sears Bellows County Park, may need to be turned off until the Town Board can install a $3 million iron and manganese filtration system at the site.

At a Southampton Town Board work session on Thursday, May 9, Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said that customers could be waiting as long as a year until the filtration system is built.

The district’s fourth well field has two wells, both of which have tested above the combined limit for iron and manganese concentrations. According to the state sanitary code, if iron and manganese are present, the total concentration of both should not exceed 0.5 mg/L.

At Thursday’s work session, Warren Booth, a maintenance crew leader with the water district, said that recent test results show well 4-1 and 4-2 at 1.8 mg/L and 5.7 mg/L, respectively—both individually easily exceeding the state limit.

In the past, water district officials were permitted to sequester the district’s water supply, as recommended by the Suffolk County Department of Health, to treat the discoloration caused by the compounds.

Injecting a polyphosphate orthophosphate blend into the water supply helps prevent iron from oxidizing. However, it does not remove the particles, according to Jason Hime, the supervisor for the Bureau of Drinking Water for the Suffolk County Department of Health.

Under new regulations, water suppliers can no longer simply sequester wells exceeding a combined iron and manganese concentration of 1 mg/L.

“That’s a problem for us,” Mr. Schneiderman said, calling it an aesthetic issue. “People don’t like to drink water that is discolored.”

The supervisor suggested to the water district’s assistant superintendent, Richard McCuen, that the district seek a variance from the Health Department, asking to sequester well 4-1. In the meantime, well 4-2 would be discontinued until the filtration system’s installation.

Mr. McCuen confirmed that one well could be turned off while the other was operational.

Town Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni also suggested that the district re-institute an odd-and-even watering schedule during the summer. Last July, hamlet residents were asked to preserve water, and the district mandated that lawns only be watered on alternating days: those with an even street address were permitted to water their lawns on even-numbered calendar dates, and odd numbers on odd-numbered dates.

“When June hits and the sprinklers come on, we’re going to have a very serious issue,” Mr. Schiavoni said.

Mr. Booth, however, stressed that, while good in theory, many residents did not abide by the mandate last summer. “We can recommend it but we can’t enforce it,” he said.

Mr. McCuen added that, last summer, the district’s first well field, which operates three separate wells, was also out of service due to PFOA and PFOS contamination. Since the installation of the $1 million carbon filtration system, those three wells are up and running this year.

“I think we can afford to put 4-2 on an as-needed basis,” he said. “We have those three pumps that we didn’t have last year. This year, we’re starting out ahead of the game.”

The water district, together with the Town Board, also discussed hosting several informational meetings at the town’s senior center on Ponquogue Avenue to answer questions and concerns from the public.

Additionally, going forward, Mr. Schneiderman recommended that the district’s budget be increased each year in order to properly maintain and clean one of the district’s 11 well fields annually.

Well field 4 was cleaned for the first time in 22 years last month, according to Mr. McCuen.

James Kappers, a water district maintenance crew leader, called last year’s water problems a “double-edged sword.” “With all bad things come some good things,” he said.

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Why is there even a discussion of clean water in Hampton bays? These employees are self serving and could care less about the condition of the water they only care about their jobs. Let Suffolk County take it over they have a huge budget and a very good record of keeping water clean. God only knows how many times water has been badd in Hampton bays or borderline it's enough to make you sick
By chief1 (2800), southampton on May 10, 19 6:42 PM
1 member liked this comment
"Woah! We're not allowing phosphorus to be added to the drinking water of the Hampton's popul….oh, it's Hampton Bays, go ahead."
By NateNewtown (99), east on May 10, 19 6:55 PM
When you have thieves and liars working for the HB Water District why would anyone think they are to be believed?
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on May 10, 19 6:57 PM
2 members liked this comment
The water district reports to who? Who was a no show from HBWD?

Bring in new leadership with experience and knowledge to fix this. Lack of trust, follow up and knowledge is troublesome . Both HBWD and Commision. Give the funding and tools to make the improvements.
By Hamptonsway (107), Southampton on May 10, 19 9:04 PM
HBWD budget will be increased, like it should have been every year, the flushing of the water more often as suggested will put the HBWD on the right course for safe water.. HBWD is not the only water authority that has been having problems. With the right tools and funding the problems will be solved.

As for the comment about who does not show up for meetings, know the reasons before you comment.
By Resident tax (186), Hampton bays ny on May 10, 19 10:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
How much longer to we have to to live with lying and incompetence of the HBWD leadership? They are a constant threat to the well being of our community.
By Bayman (56), Hampton Bays on May 12, 19 10:00 AM
1 member liked this comment
Well, when Jay realized he couldn't unilaterally sign over the HBWD over to the SCWA without a vote after hours of circus performances at the HBHS, the Town Board is now dragging their heels on doing anything else. The Town Board are the de facto Water Commissions and stand in "righteous indignation" about their responsibility in all this. Well, as NateNewtown said....what else should we expect...it is Hampton Bays...we have NO representation here, but we have the most votes. We need to use them ...more
By G.A.Lombardi (575), Hampton Bays on May 12, 19 10:16 AM
1 member liked this comment
The school board has an expensive up island attorney on retainer -- get him to threaten to sue the Town for providing the local schools with contaminated water for our children.
By dfree (818), hampton bays on May 14, 19 7:39 AM
The school board has an expensive up island attorney on retainer -- get him to threaten to sue the Town for providing the local schools with contaminated water for our children.
By dfree (818), hampton bays on May 14, 19 7:39 AM
I think we should have a class action lawsuit against the Town as to the way their actions and decisions discriminate against Hampton Bays - the lack of clean drinking water, the over use of the transfer station, overcrowding housing, the decaying Town owned property, the illegal use of motels, the discriminatory use of CPF monies....I am sure if I gave i more than a 1/2 minute, I can come up with many more....or we just vote them out of office in November.....that may work too.
By G.A.Lombardi (575), Hampton Bays on May 14, 19 11:16 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Pacman (273), Southampton on May 31, 19 5:14 PM