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Suffolk Water Authority looking for less expensive ways to get water to Water Island

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine is shown

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine is shown on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015 at Cedar Beach in Mt. Sinai. Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Water Island may get more water under a proposal pitched to residents and Town of Brookhaven officials last week by the Suffolk County Water Authority.

Water Authority chief executive Jeffrey W. Szabo said in a statement the utility and Fire Island National Seashore officials are developing plans to extend water mains to the small Fire Island summer community. Town officials have said the hamlet has not had enough water to fight fires since superstorm Sandy swept away two wells and damaged four others in October 2012.

Town, national seashore and Water Authority officials met on Aug. 17 with Water Island residents to discuss the plan, several meeting participants said in interviews. Water Island is a hamlet of about 50 residences between Davis Park on the east and Fire Island Pines on the west, and is within the boundaries of the Fire Island National Seashore. The community is reachable by ferry from Sayville.

"During these discussions, the Fire Island National Seashore representative indicated that they are eager to work with us to extend water mains through the National Seashore bringing public water one step closer to the Water Island community. As such, we are seeking the most cost-effective way to bring fire protection and potable drinking water to the community," Szabo said.

He said Water Authority workers visited the hamlet Thursday "to assess the feasibility of moving forward."

Town officials have proposed a competing plan to boost fire protection in Water Island by digging three 300-foot wells. Some Water Island residents have objected to that plan, with its price tag of $1.7 million, because it would almost double taxes for residents within the Water Island Fire Protection District.

Water Island homeowner Al Havranek, who attended the Aug. 17 meeting, said the Water Authority plan would cost residents "quite a bit less" than the town proposal.

"Our primary concern is fire protection. . . . However, we want the most cost-effective solution," Havranek, 47, said. "The Suffolk County Water plan is almost tailor-made for what we're after."

Water Authority officials could not offer cost estimates for their plan or say when it would be completed.

Brookhaven Councilman Neil Foley said the town may drop its proposal if the Water Authority plan can be completed quickly and cost residents less.

"I think, at the end of the day, it is the best way to go for Water Island," Foley said. "It's an option that seems to be serious."

Supervisor Edward P. Romaine has said the board would vote on the town proposal tomorrow.

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