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Study due on Island wastewater plans

The Town Board awaits results of an independent environmental assessment of two conflicting plans for dealing with Center wastewater issues.

Town Engineer Joe Finora told the Water Advisory Committee (WAC) Monday he expects results to be forthcoming, perhaps this month, on the environmental impacts of the plan by Lombardo Associates, a town consultant, for a central treatment system versus individual commercial nitrogen-reducing I/A systems for several Center buildings. That alternative is being advocated by the civic group Friends of Coecles Harbor.

An application for a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is pending. The ask was for $2.49 million. Suffolk County already awarded a $250,000 grant and the total anticipated cost if the Lombardo project moves forward is expected to be $3.1 million.

Mr. Finora said if the DEC grant is approved, it would be for the full amount.

Long-term explorations

Two long-term projects got some discussion at the WAC meeting.

The largest pertains to the realization that while the Center is plagued by high nitrate content in water, the current project being pursued doesn’t deal with residential water issues in the area or with other Island areas that have issues of water quality and quantity.

WAC member Andrew Chapman raised the issue of the obligation the town has to ensure access to potable water and, in some areas, to have any clean drinking water, particularly during the summer when demand is high.

Mr. Chapman told his colleagues he believes there’s an obligation to deal with the problems, which led to a discussion of how and where to start.

Such projects aren’t going to be on an immediate agenda for the town. But committee members agreed that initial discussions with Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA) officials would be an appropriate step to explore recommendations and costs.

SCWA doesn’t supply water to the Island, and its officials have previously indicated they would be unlikely to do so because of the expense of piping. But it does manage the Dering Harbor water system and, more recently, the West Neck Water District.

A discussion of how to get data in various areas resulted in a realization that many property owners don’t know the quality of water in their wells. Those who have had their water tested are unlikely to be willing to share negative data because it could affect their property values.

Mr. Finora advised members that the approach should be to broadly define the problems and explain what could be done to remedy the situation.

A second exploration got underway in a meeting WAC Chairman Peter Grand, Mr. Finora and a representative of the Water Quality Improvement Projects Advisory Board had with Jay Card Jr. about possible use of treated wastewater for the Gardiner’s Bay Country Club golf course. Several months ago, Mr. Card and officials of the club outlined a plan to improve the course, which would involve an increase in water usage.

But this discussion was about the potential for treated wastewater to be piped to the edge of GBCC property where it would be picked up by the club for use on its golf course and, possibly, the Shelter Island Country Club course as well.

There are issues about its use, Mr. Grand said, noting that Mr. Card said over-treatment of water could strip it of some elements needed to be effective for a golf course.