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Riverhead seeks grants for drinking water upgrades to 90 homes near old Grumman site

Riverhead Town Hall in Riverhead on Thursday, Feb.

Riverhead Town Hall in Riverhead on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. Credit: Randee Daddona

Riverhead officials will begin searching for state, local and federal funding to pay for infrastructure upgrades to the town’s water district as part of efforts to improve the drinking water for Calverton and Manorville residents near the former Grumman naval weapons plant.

The Town Board voted 5-0 at its April 20 meeting to authorize the town’s Community Development Agency to apply for grants for the Riverhead Water District. The money would finance access to public water for 90 homes in Manorville and Calverton that are south and east of the former Grumman facility.

The town will also prioritize seeking funding to build additional water storage facilities and wells to accommodate future development in Riverhead.

Data from the Suffolk County Health Department released in December showed that perfluorinated compounds were found in nearly 15% of private drinking wells tested near the former Grumman plant. The chemicals have been linked to reproductive, endocrine and other health impacts.

Councilwoman Catherine Kent initially suggested tabling the motion to give the board more time to ensure affected residents would not be subject to rate increases.

However, other board members pushed to move quickly, and Kent ended up voting yes.

"The people need clean water now," Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said, noting the town sent a letter to Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) a week ago seeking help on the federal level. "We are going to continue fighting, and we’re not going to delay this."

Councilman Frank Beyrodt agreed.

"We need to get some grant funding and some federal money for our water district to help us maintain good, clean drinking water," Beyrodt said.

Dawn Thomas, Riverhead’s community development director, said the town will look at county, state and federal options for grant funding. Those potential sources include the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which is administered by the Environmental Facilities Council and the New York State Department of Health and provides financial incentives for municipal public water systems to undertake drinking water infrastructure improvements.

Officials may also consider partnering with Brookhaven Town — which is interested in extending services to provide public water to homes south and southeast of the former Grumman facility — through an Intermunicipal Water Infrastructure Grant.

Thomas said no project cost estimates are available. Preliminary cost estimates given to the town in Februrary by Melville-based H2M architects + engineers list the Calverton and Manorville extensions at $3.1 million and $5.8 million, respectively.

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