Calverton and Manorville launch signature campaign for “Clean Water Now”


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Claire Bennett of Manorville has her drinking water tested monthly by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and for the past five years chemicals found in these test results have included MTBE, benzene , acetone, isopropylbenzene, tetrahydrofuran, 1,2 dichloroethane and chloromethane. .

Levels of MTBE, a fuel additive that has caused cancer in laboratory animals, were 110 parts per billion in 2016 tests, while the maximum allowable contaminant level for MTBE in New York State was 10 ppb.

Last Saturday, Ms. Bennett brought two gallon containers of water to an event in Manorville hosted by residents trying to extend public water to their neighborhood.

One bottle came from the supermarket and was clear; the other, containing Ms. Bennett’s tap water, was light brown or yellow.

Ms Bennett was one of some 30 Manorville residents who gathered at a neighbor’s house last Saturday to launch a campaign to extend public water to their homes. Residents say they don’t drink the water, but still have to shower in it.

Residents of Calverton and Manorville living south of Grumman Boulevard want to be connected to the public water supply network. Resident Ron Martz said they had been seeking to connect to public water for about 20 years to no avail, and a number of neighbors have died of cancer during that time.

Residents of 126 homes that rely on private drinking water wells in Manorville and Calverton say they are threatened by toxic contamination of their groundwater. They say there have been epidemiological studies of the area, but they are always told the results are inconclusive.

This house on River Road in Calverton is one of over 200 with “Clean Water Now” signs. He’s probably the only one with a dinosaur skeleton holding the sign, however. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The houses are split evenly between the towns of Riverhead and Brookhaven.

Riverhead has its own river basin district, while Brookhaven is served by the Suffolk County Water Authority.

Signs reading “Clean Water Now” can now be found on the lawns of both hamlets.

“Today it’s about demonstrating a continued and accelerated demand and need for clean drinking water in the community,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, a nonprofit group that has helped launch the campaign.

Around 120 signs have been installed throughout the area.

“Clean, safe and reliable drinking water is not a luxury, it is a necessity,” said Ms. Esposito.

“It’s important that anyone who walks into this community knows that the signs they see represent a family potentially drinking contaminated water,” said Kelly McClinchy, a Manorville resident who has led a petition to have the public water is extended to the community.

“Obviously there is a problem here,” she said. “And it is just as important for us to continue to send the message to elected officials that we do not sit idly by and wait. We are waiting – and we are asking – for action. “

Residents of Calverton and Manorville have raised concerns that the operations of the US Navy – when it leased the Calverton site to the Grumman Corporation – resulted in water contamination that affected their well south of the navy site.

The navy admitted to having caused some pollution on the site. She cleared 144 acres and ceded that land to the city in 2007 and now retains 208 acres that she is trying to restore.

However, the Navy says it is not responsible for the pollution south of Grumman Boulevard in homes in Manorville and Calverton.

Congressman Lee Zeldin recently submitted a request for funding of $ 7.2 million to extend water to parts of Riverhead Town of Calverton and Manorville that need public water and a request for funding of 5.4 million dollars for the part of Brookhaven Town on behalf of SCWA.

Riverhead Town officials say they don’t want SCWA to expand into the city’s interior, saying they fear it is trying to take over the city’s water district.

“We’re in a position where we want clean water wherever it comes from, and we want it now,” said Ms. McClinchy.

“The community wants clean water,” Ms. Esposito said. “We don’t want politics to be a stumbling block for the needs of the community. And this battle is nothing but a political hot potato that distracts from the need for clean water. This is one of the reasons we are hosting this event today. We don’t care where the clean water comes from. But it must be speeded up and it must be free for residents. “

Ms McClinchy said another issue residents face is low pressure from fire hydrants in the neighborhood.

“We have fire wells which are just about insufficient to pump enough water to put out a fire,” she said. Extending public water would also help alleviate this situation, she said.

The Suffolk County Health Department sampled 95 private wells in the Manorville / Calverton area in December and detected various contaminants at levels exceeding state and federal drinking water standards, officials say . These included 15 wells that showed the presence of PFOS and PFAS – toxic chemical compounds of human origin that for decades had various uses, including in fire fighting foam – among the contaminants.

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