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Engineer awaits word from Health Department on church’s water

REPORTER FILE PHOTO

Local officials are awaiting  a review of a plan Town Engineer John Cronin submitted to the Suffolk County Bureau of Drinking Water to deal with the discovery of high nitrate levels that make drinking water at Shelter Island Presbyterian Church dangerous.

Word came  late last month that the water in the church is not potable.  Mr. Cronin submitted a proposal to use reverse osmosis filtration system to deal with the problem.

It was not a finding that surprised him since studies he and a student intern had determined last summer that nitrate levels were high in the Center. Some of the problems are being addressed with a nitrogen-reducing septic system that will serve both the American Legion Post and a large portion of Shelter Island School.

“We have a little hiatus here,” the engineer told the Reporter Tuesday afternoon. He hopes to hear back by the end of the week about whether the Suffolk County Department of Health Services approves the plan submitted by the town or seeks an alternative measure to deal with the problem.

In the interim, those using the church for various functions are avoiding the use of  tap water.

Once a solution is determined, the town will take steps to determine the cost of the project.

With that information in hand, it would fall to the Town Board to determine how the fix would be funded, Mr. Cronin said.

The church is a venue hosting many functions, including the town food kitchen; the town Dinner Bell program that serves lunches twice a week for seniors; and provides space for the private Shelter Island Early Childhood Learning Center. It is also a venue for many concerts and other special events on the Island.

Karin Bennett, who oversees the town’s Nutrition Program, had provided information to Mr. Cronin that she received from the county Health Department detailing the problem and requiring that an action plan be put in place.

The Reporter will continue to follow developments and provide information as soon as it is received.

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