The Suffolk County Water Authority will adjust the price that almost two dozen Wainscott residents will eventually be charged to connect to public water, in part because they were not told that using a water authority contractor could cost three times the market rate.
The water authority broke ground last month on the installation of 45,000 feet of water mains in Wainscott where perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), compounds the Environmental Protection Agency says may cause cancer or other health problems, have been detected in more than 100 private wells.
Water authority officials estimate that private plumbers charge about $30 per foot to connect to the mains, while the water authority’s contractor, Asplundh Contracting Co., is charging $93 per foot. Work performed by Asplundh, which has an office in Yaphank, will be paid upfront by the town, rolled into a property owner’s tax bill with interest and paid off over 20 years. Work performed by an independent plumber usually must be paid at the time of installation.
Asplundh has charged the 21 residents who have already connected to the new mains between $7,733 and $36,157 for the hookup. The price varies by the length of pipe from a residence to the road, according to the water authority.
East Hampton Town and water authority officials are urging residents to obtain an estimate from a private plumber as well as Asplundh before connecting to the newly installed mains.
“It’s really important that these people know what their options are,” East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said Tuesday after a town board work session. “Everyone has to have the opportunity to make their own decision.”
The water authority is sending out mailers, making phone calls and knocking on doors to ensure residents know their options, said Jeff Szabo, the authority's CEO. Town officials said Monday in a news release that they insisted the water authority make the options clear to residents.
“We have put a hold on connecting service lines” by Asplundh, to ensure residents are fully informed of the cost, Szabo said. “We’re really just trying to clarify the issue.”
An Asplundh representative could not be reached for comment.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation is expected to release a draft report in the fall on the contamination’s source, though it is suspected to have originated somewhere on the East Hampton Airport property.
Laraine Hayes, a retired attorney who owns four Wainscott properties, said she found the water authority’s estimates, which in her case ranged from $10,000 to $22,000, “outrageous,” but added it was unfair that she must pay any money at all considering she didn’t cause the contamination.
“It’s not like I’m paying to paint my house or make an improvement,” Hayes said. “I’m paying for a problem that I’m not responsible for.”