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Schumer: DOJ deal to build water treatment plant spares ratepayers

Six days after criticizing the U.S. Department of Justice for stalling a settlement to build a treatment plant in the South Farmingdale Water District, Sen. Charles Schumer said an agreement has been reached that will save customers millions.

The Justice Department gave final approval to release $14 million to pay for construction of the new plant, Schumer said Thursday.

Water district customers were facing the possibility of a $65-per-year hike - in some cases, about $2,000 per customer over the next 20 years - to finance the new plant. The settlement "will remove that potential burden from ratepayers," Schumer said in a news release.

The plant was needed, officials said, because chemicals from a former naval weapons depot at the Northrop Grumman Corp. property in Bethpage threaten to pollute district wells. The water district covers South Farmingdale, North Massapequa and portions of Bethpage and Seaford.

The Navy and the water district had reached a tentative agreement in 2005 - with the Navy agreeing to pay for a $8.6-million treatment plant.

Schumer had asked Attorney General Eric Holder to complete the settlement "before residents get socked with massive rate hikes," Schumer said.

"This is a win-win for Long Island," Schumer said in the statement. "It's a win for ratepayers who don't have to fear massive hikes in their water bills and it's a win for Islanders who were fearful that contaminants in the water could harm the health of their families."

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