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Dering Harbor bars access to hydrants by contractors

The Village of Dering Harbor, which has contracted with Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA) since 2019 to manage their water supply, has notified a local contractor that accessing water supplies from SCWA’s hydrant in the Village is forbidden.

Resident John Colby notified Village officials on Oct. 18 that he had seen and photographed a truck from East End Pest Control drawing water from one of the Village’s fire hydrants on the corner of Manhanset and Dering Woods roads.

Mr. Colby said he questioned the contractor, who stated that he had permission from SCWA to extract water. “When told this was Village water, he retorted that we should call SCWA to find out,” Mr. Colby said in his note to Village officials.

The Suffolk County Water Authority, as a routine practice, issues permits to certain contractors to draw water from distribution systems that they manage, according to Mayor Patrick Parcells.

However, Mr. Parcells said in a letter to Village residents, “when we negotiated our contract with the SCWA, I had that provision in the contract removed. The permits issued by the SCWA to contractors specifically exclude the Village of Dering Harbor as a site for contractors to draw water for their tankers. We will not and do not allow any contractor to access our water distribution system.”

Mr. Parcells said that the SCWA has contacted the pest control company reminding them that they are not authorized to draw water from the Village system. 

“East End Pest Control was cheating,” Mr. Parcells said. “I have called this contractor and will make sure that there is no misunderstanding regarding their rights of access to hydrants in the Village.”

Judith Lechmanski, a spokesperson for East End Pest Control, disputed Mr. Parcells’ characterization in an email to the mayor and clerk of the Village as well as the Reporter.

“First of all, saying we are cheating is a completely inaccurate statement. At the time of use, we were well within our permitted rights to use the hydrants. We were not notified by SCWA that those hydrants were prohibited. They are labeled as public use, just like many of the other hydrants we have been permitted to use.”

She forwarded to the Reporter an email from Grace-Ann Whitmarsh of SCWA, saying “At the time East End Pest Control applied and received a permit to operate fire hydrants this office was not aware of Shelter Island hydrants being off limits.”

Ms. Lechmanski suggested that there should be signage indicating these hydrants are off limits to those with SCWA permits. She also stated that three calls to the mayor were not returned, only an email.

She said it was also incorrect to say, as Mr. Parcells did, that SCWA contacted the pest control company.

“We contacted SWCA first as they are the permitting entity,” said Ms. Lechmanski. She said a phone call could have cleared up the matter.

“We are an Island-based company who serves all of the Shelter Island community. It’s disappointing that open communication wasn’t utilized and we have been publicly shamed for something we were within our permitted rights to do at that time.  We recognize that these hydrants are off limits now, and will adhere to the newly found rules.”