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Mar 12, 2019 3:40 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Town Board Looks To Hire Consultant To Assess Upgrades To Hampton Bays Water District; Timeline For Takeover Vote Delayed

The Hampton Bays water tower. VALERIE GORDON
Mar 12, 2019 4:33 PM

The Southampton Town Board is looking to hire a consultant to assess the cost of modernizing the Hampton Bays Water District’s infrastructure, in the event the Suffolk County Water Authority is not brought in to manage and upgrade the district.

The move likely will push off any public vote on the matter beyond 2019. Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said he suspected that the analysis would take several months to complete, which would make it nearly impossible to hold a vote anytime this year.

The hamlet’s municipal water system was criticized by public officials and community members, after customers suffered a brief stint of discolored water with little to no pressure last summer.

In August 2018, Mr. Schneiderman turned to Suffolk County Water Authority officials, who performed an analysis of the district’s infrastructure, with an eye toward the SCWA taking over management of the hamlet’s water district.

According to CEO Jeff Szabo, the authority’s plan showed a cost of upgrading the system at roughly $14 million over a 10-year period. Those costs include installing a $2.6 million iron and manganese filtration system, resurfacing several of the district’s tanks, and replacing underground water mains throughout the hamlet.

But the new evaluation being called for by the supervisor—which Mr. Schneiderman said would be completed by either D&B Engineers and Architects of Woodbury or Melville-based H2M Architects + Engineers—would allow the Town Board to “compare apples to apples,” according to Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone. It will seek to determine the cost of the same work if performed by the Hampton Bays Water District.

“There’s an advantage to having a fresh set of eyes,” Mr. Schneiderman added.

Through the analysis, the Town Board hopes to nail down the necessary list of infrastructure updates, the costs associated with doing them, and the effect that those projects would have on the district’s approximate 6,400 water customers, Mr. Schneiderman said.

Previously, Town Comptroller Leonard Marchese estimated that the average homeowner’s water bill could potentially increase by roughly $300 annually to address the upgrades if the Hampton Bays Water District takes them on alone.

Under the Suffolk County Water Authority proposal, the estimated $14 million price tag for the work in Hampton Bays would be spread across its entire 1.2 million customer base.

“This analysis will help the community figure out what the best path is—whether we should try and keep it local or whether we should go to SCWA,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

He added that the water district’s fourth well field—located along Bellows Pond Road near Sears Bellows County Park—might need to be shut down until the iron and manganese filtration system can be installed, “which could be a problem because it needs that field in the summertime,” he said.

The supervisor added that the Town Board will likely address the need for the filtration system independently, prior to approving or denying the water authority’s proposal to manage the locally-owned system.

In previous interviews, both water district Superintendent Robert King and maintenance mechanic Warren Booth agreed that the $2.6 million filtration system was a necessity. Last month, Mr. Booth said that his supervisor had submitted paperwork to offset the cost of the system with grant funding, but he admitted to knowing few details about it.

In a text message on Friday, Mr. King said that he was unaware of the Town Board’s plan to hire a consultant and did not respond when asked about the details of the potential grant funding.

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This is ridiculous. Stop wasting time and money already. Put it a vote and call it a day. It's only March and Schneiderman is saying this will push it off until 2020? So another year of unsafe drinking water. Maybe you should have thought of this back in the fall instead of supposedly mailing questionnaires (which I still haven't received, but did just get a water bill). Could have saved us 6 months there.
By MrsD (53), Hampton Bays on Mar 13, 19 1:53 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By A Great American (103), East Quogue on Mar 13, 19 4:52 PM
2 members liked this comment
Right out of the old playbook, when in doubt, hire a consultant! Newsday had an article yesterday that says SCWA may need two billion dollars to clean up their water supplies. We're screwed no matter what happens.
By HamptonDad (236), Hampton Bays on Mar 13, 19 5:20 PM
3 members liked this comment
lets hire another consultant for lots of $$$$ so the town board doesnt have to make a decision
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Mar 13, 19 7:36 PM
Who pays for a consultant the town residents? Or the taxpayers of Hampton Bays?
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on Mar 14, 19 5:35 AM
I live in SCWA area and my water tastes just like chlorine. What I have come to conclusion all of Long Island water sucks especially the more west you go. Look at the article that SCWA just put out. Your water bills are going to be 250-300 quarterly. I have to go get a second job to pay my electric and now my SCWA bill!!! Would much rather just buy bottled water then give it to a private company for that price. If I was the HB residents I would rather see town hall do the upgrades than having to ...more
By watchoutnow968 (56), Southampton on Mar 14, 19 8:51 AM
2 members liked this comment
The Town Board is a disgrace. Keep passing the buck. Make a decision based on facts, not on how it will affect election results and your future employment. It’s a total shame that these individuals control the quality of life in our great Town. Time to clean house.
By A Great American (103), East Quogue on Mar 14, 19 2:26 PM
Town Board has got to stop sitting on their hands. Consultants being hired for every thing. We also hire lawyers because the town lawyers can't do the job.
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Mar 18, 19 2:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
Get the Consultant Recommendations, apply for whatever funding is available and fix the Hampton Bays system. Pay for it with Bonding if needed and keep the management and ownership of the system local. Hampton Bays Water district has more water per person available then the SWCA system has per person and we should keep control of that natural resource as the demand for water increases over time.
By Ernie (88), Hampton Bays on Mar 26, 19 12:16 PM