Plainview, Garden City, Jericho water districts get millions in grants to improve water quality

Three Nassau County communities are among eight locales statewide awarded a piece of a $40 million grant package earmarked for water infrastructure improvement, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced this week.

The grants, including $5.399 million for the Plainview Water District, $5.336 million for the Village of Garden City and $3 million for the Jericho Water District, are part of $40.3 million for projects in what the governor’s office called the latest action to safeguard New York’s drinking water supplies, as well as upgrade water and sewer systems and reduce water pollution.

In Jericho, the funding will go to construct a “packed tower aeration system” needed to treat concentrations of Freon-22 at Wells No. 6 and No. 16 — two of the 25 wells, some approaching 700 feet deep, that draw from the Magothy and Lloyd aquifers. 

The refrigerant, which is being phased out nationwide, for years served as the choice hydrochlorofluorocarbon cooling refrigerant in air conditioners and most medium- to low-temperature commercial refrigeration units such as supermarket cases, food service storage units and ice machines. 

In Garden City, the grant will be used to install new equipment at the Clinton Road Plant for treatment of “emerging contaminants.”

Officials in those water districts could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

Plainview Water District Superintendent Stephen Moriarty said Friday that the funding his office receives will help complete a project to ensure the contaminant 1,4-dioxane is safely removed from the district’s water supply.

Though first targeted for phaseout in the late 1980s, dioxane remains present in Long Island groundwater — mostly, Moriarty said, as the result of decadeslong use in household items like shampoos, detergents, cosmetics and inks.

A fact sheet on the water district webpage also cites industrial manufacturing operations on Long Island between the 1950s and ’90s.

The Plainview Water District operates 12 wells and 130 miles of water main serving about 34,000 residents in Plainview, Old Bethpage and Syosset.

“It’s like we’re dealing with the sins of the past,” Moriarty said, noting that his water district has undertaken “aggressive” treatment solutions since he first spoke in 2019 before the Drinking Water Council in Albany. “In the middle of the pandemic just procuring equipment meant long lead times,” he said. “We’ve got all the equipment and have been treating the issue since last summer.”

But, he said, much of the equipment, which involves a treatment process utilizing ultraviolet light, has been erected in a temporary, nonwinterized operation base. The grant money, Moriarty said, will help provide permanent housing for that equipment, he said.

“This lifts the burden of our ratepayers,” he said, adding: “The goal is so that we can provide long-term treatment for generations to come.”

Hochul, in a statement Thursday, said, “Communities need financial support to help them undertake water infrastructure improvement projects.” She said it had been prioritized in a $500 million statewide investment in clean water infrastructure in the Executive Budget.

Other projects receiving grants are located in Albany, as well as in Westchester, Ontario, Warren and Cattaraugus counties.

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