Suffolk County urged Oak Beach residents this month not to drink from their taps after breakdowns in a distribution system compromised water quality and temporarily left faucets running dry in at least seven homes, officials said.
The episode was the latest to spark concern over the condition of the water that three privately run systems draw from wells into 57 homes in the barrier beach community next to Ocean Parkway. Suffolk County has repeatedly flagged them for health risks, and Babylon Town plans to replace them with a public water system by 2019. Some homeowners have questioned the need for the new infrastructure, especially given its $3 million price tag, but others said it’s worth it.
“To have peace of mind . . . we’re willing to take on that additional cost,” said Laurel Mooney, a resident served by one of the wells.
The recent issues involved a malfunctioning water filtration system in one home and a broken pipe in another, according to Jason Hime, the supervisor of Suffolk County’s Bureau of Drinking Water.
The breakdowns cut off water supply to some homes and risked drawing pesticides and other contaminants into the system, Hime said.
Contractors repaired the breaks on June 12, Mooney said. She did not know when they occurred.
Mooney did not lose water service, but she did receive a flyer from the county advising her to use only bottled water for drinking, brushing teeth and cooking “until further notice” — as did the 56 other homes served by the three patchwork systems.
The flyer said the systems do not provide chlorination or adequate pressure, which could result in contaminated water.
Mooney said she was largely unfazed by the warning and resumed drinking her tap water after the repairs, although she does not serve it to her young daughter.
In contrast, part-time resident Maryanne McBride does not drink her tap water because of health concerns, and the notice persuaded her to no longer brush her teeth or cook with it either, she said.
While all of the 190 homes in Oak Beach rely on such wells, the three in question serve enough people to require regulation by the county, Hime said. And because Babylon owns the land under the Oak Beach homes, the health concerns identified by the county have required the town to also get involved, town chief of staff Ron Kluesener said.
Babylon hired an engineering firm in 2016 to design the new water infrastructure, which will comply with regulations, Kluesener said.
A state grant will cover most of the project cost, but the 57 homeowners will ultimately pay for the rest through higher water bills.