The Suffolk County Water Authority has approved plans to extend a water line 17,000 feet, from East Marion to Orient, to address nagging pollution problems for hundreds of North Fork residents who rely on private wells.
Half the cost of the $3.6-million project is expected to be paid with federal economic stimulus funds, which would cut the hookup cost for each homeowner to $2,000 from $4,000.
The line would run east from East Marion to the small Browns Hills subdivision of 24 homes, about halfway to Orient Point. The 110 existing homes along the route would also be able to hook into the new line.
Continuing deterioration of water quality in the Browns Hills community, once served by a small private water company, meant that reverse osmosis filters had to be installed in each house to deal with nitrates and pesticides.
Steve Jones, chief executive of the SCWA, said those filters are expensive to maintain and have relatively low water flow. The water supply in those houses did not meet Suffolk County Health Department drinking water standards, he said.
Jones said a community meeting is being planned to "resolve any outstanding issues" residents may have about the new line.
He said that officials in the Town of Southold have expressed concern that extending public water would lead to a surge in population growth. Such growth did not occur after extensions of other water lines around 2001, he said.
The extension was approved Tuesday. Pending final environmental reviews and other approvals, construction is expected to begin in the spring or summer.