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Sep 13, 2017 11:22 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Water District Wants To Spend $1M On Well Filtration Systems

Robert King, superintendent of the Hampton Bays Water District, during last week's work session. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Sep 13, 2017 11:22 AM

The Hampton Bays Water District is seeking permission from the Southampton Town Board to spend approximately $1 million to add carbon filtration systems to its 11 public water wells.

The request, made by Water District Superintendent Robert King at last week’s work session, comes shortly after officials detected traces of two unregulated chemicals in a pair of the district’s wells, both of which have been shut off. The chemicals—perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA—are expected to eventually be traced to firefighting foam used during training exercises at the Hampton Bays firehouse on Montauk Highway.

Mr. King, who also serves as a commissioner of the Hampton Bays Fire District, noted that the water district already has the necessary funds set aside to purchase the granular activated carbon filters, so officials would not need to increase taxes to make the purchase. The filters, he said, would remove the contaminants from the drinking water.

Ironically, the money for the filters would come from a $1.1 million settlement that the water district received several years ago from the manufacturer of methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE. That settlement was reached, according to Mr. King, when the chemical—a colorless liquid commonly found in gasoline—was detected in the aquifer that supplies the water district, though the chemical was never detected in its 11 wells.

“The money was set aside for this reason,” Mr. King said, referring to the newly detected pollution.

He also noted that estimates from the water district’s engineering consultant, H2M Architects and Engineers in Melville, state that the carbon filtration systems would cost about $1 million.

The Southampton Town Board, whose members serve as commissioners of the water district, tabled discussion of the proposed purchase until Friday, October 6.

At last week’s meeting, Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman commended water district personnel for their quick response in turning off the two contaminated wells.

The Hampton Bays wells, according to Mr. King, contained “slightly” more than the Environmental Protection Agency’s limit of 0.07 parts per billion, or ppb, for the two chemicals. He noted that testing revealed that the water contained 0.073 ppb.

One well was shut down in July, while another was shut down more than a year ago, Mr. King said. Both wells are located between 100 and 150 yards south of the Hampton Bays Fire Department’s main firehouse on Montauk Highway.

In the interim, customers will continue to be served by nine other water district wells that presently meet the EPA standards for both PFOS and PFOA, according to the district.

Hampton Bays Water District residents were notified about the contamination in a letter mailed to customers last month.

“No one did anything wrong,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “It’s unfortunate. Sometimes we learn about these chemicals and these toxicity long after using it.”

Mr. King stressed that his district’s water is safe to drink. “I drink it and I live a mile an a half from the well field,” he added.

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If the settlement was received "several years ago", why wasn't the filtration system put in place then?
By MrsD (53), Hampton Bays on Sep 15, 17 9:43 AM