North Hempstead approves $16M bond for Port water district

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North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio at a previous meeting. North Hempstead approved a $16M bond for the Port Washington Water District on Tuesday. (Photo by Teri West)

The North Hempstead town board approved the issuance of a $16.1 million bond Tuesday to fund the first phase of the Port Washington Water District’s capital improvement plan. 

Phase one consists of critical improvements to four of the district’s six well stations. The second and last phase of the plan is still being developed and will require the approval of a second bond. 

Many of the improvements involve constructing treatment systems for 1,4-dioxane, a chemical that has been found in drinking water systems across Long Island and has been classified as a “likely carcinogen” by the EPA. 

Bill Merklin of D&B Engineers, Port water district’s contracted engineer, said the 1,4-dioxane treatment systems in the district have become even more imperative with maximum contamination levels for the substance projected to be adopted by January 2020. 

The state Drinking Water Quality Council recommended a maximum contamination of 1 part per billion in December 2018. In July, the state health commissioner ordered the state Department of Health to begin the process to adopt the recommended level. 

Treatments for 1,4-dioxane will be designed and constructed at Hewlett and Stonytown well stations along with the completion of other miscellaneous repairs that will account for over $11 million of the project’s expenses. 

At the Morley Park well station, the district has allocated $400,000 to an advanced oxidation process pilot system to treat for 1,4 dioxane.

The Morley Park well station is situated in a county-owned park and the treatment requires the acquisition of more land, which calls for a different level of environmental review for bond approval than the well stations that sit on the district-owned property. The actual design and construction of the treatment system for the Morley Park wells is packaged in phase two of the project. 

The Neulist well station will see the replacement of its main electrical switchgear, pump motor starters, two emergency generators, mechanical valves and analyzers among other improvements. 

The bond approval will result in a rate hike to Port water consumers. 

Port Washington Water District Commissioner Mindy Germain, also executive director of Residents Forward, said the district is working with an outside consultant to determine how to best handle a rate increase without putting too much burden on the taxpayers. 

The district was also the recipient of $3 million in grants from the state Water Infrastructure Improvement Act and is applying for more grants that if approved will be used to offset the bond, Merklin said. 

In unrelated business, the North Hempstead town board voted to extend a waterfront building moratorium at the Port Washington Waterfront Business District until April 1, 2020. 

Town officials are working to create a zoning code for the district that works for both developers and residents. 

Residents voiced concerns of overdevelopment in the area at past town meetings, while developers said proposed regulations would halt development completely.

North Hempstead Councilwoman Dina DeGiorgio said the extension is needed to have ample time to engage a consultant.

The 11.2-acre waterfront business district was organized in June 2009 and runs along the north side of Main Street from Sunset Park to the west side of Main Street after the curve and ends just before Dolphin Green.

The board also approved Galvin Bros. Inc., a construction firm based in Great Neck, to stabilize the Beacon Hill bluffs, which are adjacent to Harbor Links Golf Course, where the same firm completed bluff stabilization in 1997. 

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