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Suffolk Water Authority to dig up, replace aging Huntington water pipes

From left, Suffolk County Water Authority Chairman James

From left, Suffolk County Water Authority Chairman James F. Gaughran, Suffolk County Legis. William Spencer, Huntington Town Councilman Mark Cuthbertson, Water Authority board member Jane Devine (obscured) and Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone, at a press conference on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, to discuss the water authority's plan to improve the water infrastructure in Huntington. Credit: Ed Betz

The Suffolk County Water Authority plans to replace about 12,000 feet of old and undersized pipes in downtown Huntington as part of a $14 million countywide initiative.

Authority chairman James Gaughran announced the project Wednesday, saying it would start in the fall and take place on 13 streets, mostly in residential areas. Most of the pipes being replaced are about 100 years old, he said.

Replacing the old piping "increases our water pressure, it increases our ability to get water to people quicker, it improves fire safety, and . . . it will reduce water breaks that we have all the time throughout the county," he said, noting that the new iron pipe will be larger than the existing pipes.

The project is part of the water authority's effort to replace old water mains around the county. The Huntington portion will cost about $2.6 million, county officials said.

Agency officials hope to start the work in September, and, depending on weather, finish in the fall or the spring, Gaughran said.

One of the biggest issues the town faces is replacing its aging infrastructure, Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone said at a news conference with Gaughran.

"When an agency steps forward and has a plan to do that, that speaks highly of the process and what you're doing in your leadership role," Petrone said. "It makes a big difference in this town."

Gaughran, who is running for county comptroller, said the sites were picked based on age and the frequency of water main breaks.

The 13 streets where pipes will be replaced are: Penataquit Place, Mechanic Street, Clinton Avenue, Central Street, Oakwood Road, Knollwood Avenue, Crescent Drive, Hillcrest Street, Myrtle Avenue, Elm Street, Benedict Place, Gibson Avenue and Madison Street.

Water authority officials said they have yet to complete the allocation of the full $14 million but expect to have it settled soon.

The agency last week submitted an application for state funds to replace 5,820 feet of water pipe on Main Street and East Main Street in Huntington. That pipe feeds Town Hall and Huntington Hospital, he said.

A water break in that area in early June closed the westbound lane of Main Street for hours.

Gaughran said that the authority would do the work even without the state funding.

"We are hopeful that we will get this additional funding, that maybe we can expedite repairing that as well," he said.

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