With high levels of manganese and iron still showing up in some of Hampton Bays’ well fields, Southampton Town Board members are asking water district commissioners to investigate several alternatives to make the hamlet’s water safer.
Water district Superintendent Robert King last week unveiled new test results following the installation of a water filtration system this past summer that show reductions in the levels of both contaminants along with perfluorooctanesulfonic acid and other perfluorinated chemicals, with combined levels below limits once the water is filtered.
“It shows the plume is moving,” King said.
But Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said he would like to see other ideas explored to get the numbers well below the allowable limits instead of settling for “non-detect” results after treatment. He also called for additional testing.
“Because we haven’t confirmed the source of this, when you’re dealing with toxins in water supply sometimes you’re dealing with a single event — a barrel was dumped. Sometimes it’s a continual event,” Schneiderman said. “It’s encouraging to see that these numbers are going down, and good to see some of these contaminants aren’t high in all other well fields, but we want to make sure this is safe.”
There is also talk that national permissible level of these contaminants being lowered.
An additional water filtration system is one option, but that could cost upward of $2.6 million. Officials also said that if there is an issue with the well itself contaminated, it could cost another cost $1.8 million to put a well in a new location. The supervisor also suggested drilling a new wellhead deeper than the existing well might be a cheaper and faster solution.
Water maintenance crew leader Warren Booth said the Hampton Bays Water District took more water samples for testing the day before the water commissioners met with the town board on October 4. He said the next round of tests is not due until just before summer of next year. Schneiderman responded that he’d still like to see more tests done to try to determine where the problem lies and what the next best step to take is.
The water district has been flushing the system, opening fire hydrants, and cleaning the pipes. King said a check of a hydrant on Rampasture Road came up “crystal clear” just the other day.
Assistant Water District Superintendent James Vincent Warner said the high iron and manganese may not be coming from the wells, discussing the possibility of looking at the age of the iron pipes, some of which are lined with stucco, some of which are cast iron, to see if sedimentation issues are arising.
High iron levels in water results in a reddish-brown discoloration, while high levels of manganese turns water black. Another reason for discoloration, according to the commissioners, is that a home’s water heater may need to be flushed, which according to King should be done once a month. In most cases the color is due to rust. The Hampton Bays Water District has asked if there are any residents with concerns over the color or pressure of their household’s water to call 631-728-0179. Residents can also call the Suffolk County Department of Health Services at 631-854-0000 to schedule testing of a home’s water supply.