Riverhead resident Clare Bennett, who has been dealing with water...

Riverhead resident Clare Bennett, who has been dealing with water contamination, asks a question during a public meeting Wednesday concerning a project that will connect homes to public water. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Construction to connect water mains that will provide public drinking water to 128 Manorville homes with contaminated private wells is expected to begin this year — despite a funding shortfall — after a recent $5 million federal grantofficials said Wednesday.

Details emerged at a community meeting at a Manorville firehouse, where about 50 residents gathered to hear an update from government representatives from Riverhead, Brookhaven, Suffolk County and the Suffolk County Water Authority.

“The Suffolk County Water Authority is ready to begin this important project to bring safe and constantly tested drinking water to neighborhoods in the Manorville area impacted by PFAS contamination,” Suffolk County Water Authority Board Chairman Patrick Halpin told meeting attendees.

Officials said a $6.8 million portion of the project, which involves 64 homes in the Brookhaven portion of Manorville and is fully funded, could start as early as July but still is subject to approval by state and federal entities.

Those homes, which have traces of perfluorinated compounds in their wells, will be connected with an extension of about 20,000 feet of water main, officials said.

Manorville is partly in the Town of Brookhaven and partly in the Town of Riverhead.

In the Riverhead portion of the project, a $10.1 million expenditure, another 20,000 feet of water main will be extended to another 64 affected homes, officials said.

They estimate that portion of the project will start in the late part of 2023 or the first half of 2024, as Riverhead officials work on getting necessary approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

To date, Riverhead has secured $7.39 million in grant funding for its side of the project. However, a $386,000 shortfall remained as of Thursday — reduced from a $2.8 million deficit.

That reduction happened Thursday, when the Suffolk County Water Authority's board of directors voted to revise its policy for new customers. Such a revision will provide 75 feet of free water main per household to the 64 affected Riverhead Town homes.

Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said at Wednesday's meeting that the town is continuing to seek funding sources to reduce the costs for residents dealing with well contamination.

Kelly McClinchy, a Riverhead resident who has been vocal on the issue, told Newsday after Wednesday's meeting she is grateful there has been progress, but the town should consider using money from community preservation funds to help bridge the project’s financial gap.

“I really think there are ways to quickly get this money. The grant process is long and there’s a lot of waiting,” McClinchy said. “And the longer we wait, the longer we’re exposed to the water. So if we can come up with some creative ways to get this minimal amount of money that we still need, let’s do it.”

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