Officials tout $24 million effort to provide residents with safe water

Wainscott Water Main Project Launched

East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc spoke at a press conference announcing the beginning of a major public works project that will bring public water mains to Wainscott. Independent/Stephen J. Kotz

More than a dozen elected officials and representatives of Suffolk County and the Suffolk County Water Authority gathered at the corner of Two Rod Highway and Windsor Lane in Wainscott Monday morning, August 20, to celebrate the beginning of a project to lay 45,000 feet — about eight-and-a-half miles — of new water mains in the hamlet.

The $24 million project will allow residents whose private wells are in an area polluted by perfluorinated chemicals to hook up to public water.

East Hampton Town has bonded the $24 million for the project, with half slated to be paid for residents who live in a newly created Wainscott water district, and the other half by town taxpayers. The town and the water authority have applied for funding under New York State’s $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act. If approved, the funds would be used to offset a portion of the cost.

New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele and Senator Kenneth LaValle have sponsored legislation that would allow East Hampton to use money from its Community Preservation Fund to help cover the cost of the project.

“This is a very important day for the residents of Wainscott,” said Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc. “It is the fruition of many months of work.”

The water authority’s chairman, James Gaughran, said the authority often gets requests from municipalities to bring in public water, “but never to this scale.”

Thiele said it was a great example of different branches of government working together to swiftly solve a problem and pointed out that Wainscott is one of only five areas on the South Fork with contaminated drinking water.

“As a mom, I can say I can’t imagine anything quite as frightening as wondering whether the water that is coming out of your tap, and you are taking care of your family with, is safe to drink,” said County Legislator Bridget Fleming, who encouraged all Wainscott residents who are given the option to hook up to public water.

sjkotz@indyeastend.com