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Suffolk Water Authority tells Navy: $12M to connect 128 homes near Calverton site

The site of the former Grumman airport in

The site of the former Grumman airport in Calverton, on May 11, 2011. Credit: Kevin P Coughlin

It would cost $12.15 million to serve public water to 128 Manorville homes near the site of the former Northrop Grumman naval weapons plant, according to a Suffolk County Water Authority proposal sent to the U.S. Navy this week.

Perfluorinated compounds were detected in nearly 15% of private drinking wells tested near the former Calverton plant, according to Suffolk County Health Department data released last month. The compounds have been linked to reproductive, endocrine and other health impacts.

The water authority sent a letter Tuesday to Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite stating it was ready to extend public water and requesting the Navy provide funding for the project. The proposal calls for extending a water main off County Road 111 in Manorville to serve 64 homes in Brookhaven Town and extending a main on David Terry Road to serve 64 homes in Riverhead Town. It includes the cost of connecting private properties to the water mains.

Public water, unlike private wells, is regularly tested and must meet drinking water standards.

"I want the Navy to know that as soon as they can provide the funding, we're ready to roll," said water authority CEO Jeff Szabo.

David Todd, public affairs officer for NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic, said the Navy had not yet received the letter, but that the Navy remains committed to its cleanup at the site and "will continue to let the data and science dictate the scope of remediation efforts."

Newsday reported in December that court records show Grumman, which operated the plant until 1996, was aware at least 35 years ago that pollution generated by its work for the Navy had the potential to migrate below the surface. The Navy owned the land until 1998 and has sole cleanup responsibility.

Residents, environmental advocates and elected officials have all pushed to expand public water as the best way to safeguard public health.

"The sooner we get people clean water, the more protected their health will be," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

The letter states the water authority is better positioned to provide public water in the area than the Riverhead Water District because it can service homes not in Riverhead Town, perform the project cheaper than they can, and other reasons.

Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said the town supports working with the water authority but defended the Riverhead Water District, which she saw as being attacked in the letter to the Navy.

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