East Hampton Town will issue a 20-year bond to finance a $24.3 million project to bring public water to up to 520 homes in Wainscott where private wells have been contaminated with chemicals that could affect immune systems or fetal health.
The town board voted 5-0 Thursday to approve a $24,344,868 bond for the project, and also voted unanimously in favor of an intermunicipal agreement with the Suffolk County Water Authority, which is contracting the work.
All property owners in the town will fund the project, not just those in the newly formed Wainscott Water Supply District. An East Hampton homeowner with a property valued at $1.2 million would pay an estimated $35 to $38 per year to finance the project, town officials said in May.
The water authority voted last month to hire contractors to bring public water to the homes where wells have been contaminated with perfluorinated compounds.
“Both the town and water authority have done an excellent job of tackling the really complex issues around this contamination,” said Legis. Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac), adding that state and federal agencies should set safety standards on the emerging contaminants. “We need definitive answers on these questions. There are many people who are anxious.”
Last month, the federal Department of Health and Human Services released a draft report stating that the chemicals can be harmful to human health at lower levels than the Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.
Wainscott homeowners are expected to finance their own hookups to water mains, which water authority officials said could cost $1,850, $4,900 or $6,100. The amount depends on whether a homeowner has a 1-inch, 1.5-inch or 2-inch line. Homeowners will pay for their hookups through taxes over the course of the 20-year bond, but officials are working to secure grant funding to offset the cost to taxpayers.
The water authority’s board approved contracts with Roadwork Construction Corp. of Hampton Bays for $5.58 million to install water lines under local streets, and with Asplundh Construction Co., which has local facilities in Yaphank, for $1.59 million to connect water mains to private properties. Jeff Szabo, the water authority’s CEO, said that the work could begin as soon as the end of this month and that officials hope to complete the project by year’s end.
Once the agreement is signed, Szabo said the authority and town will jointly apply to the state Environmental Facilities Corp. for a grant that could pay up to $10 million. The money would be used to help offset taxpayers' cost.
Szabo said the initial request for proposals for which Asplundh was chosen was originally put out last fall when it appeared there might only be 40 to 50 homes involved. The project’s scope has grown since then and the connections are now expected to total $12 million.
Other costs include a $1.4 million routine tapping fee and required surcharges when new customers are hooked up, and an estimated $5 million in water authority costs for road restoration, materials like fire hydrants and the water authority’s expenses for planning, engineering and inspecting the project.
The Suffolk County Department of Health Services sought to sample 500 Wainscott residences testing for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).
It found 13 wells exceed the EPA’s advisory level. Another 151 samples were below the health advisory — 133 of them were less than 20 parts per trillion — while 153 had no taint. Another 204 residents did not respond to requests for samples.