Port Washington Water District looks ahead five years

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The Port Washington Water District is shaping its next five-year plan as the $18 million bond that funded the current five-year plan nears completion.

As of last Wednesday night’s forum hosted by the water district, the district’s five-year plan will be divided into two phases.

Bill Merklin of D&B Engineers and Architects, the district’s contracted engineering firm, said he thinks the district only has one more project to do on the current bond that was taken out over five years ago.

“Right now, we are working with the district on a master plan to identify the projects for the next five years,” he said. “In the interim, while we are working on this master plan we have come to realize we have this emerging contaminant issue and that this new regulation is imminent.”

Therefore, the first phase of the five-year plan focuses on 1,4-dioxane treatment, a clear liquid that is often used in the manufacturing of other chemicals and has been used as a stabilizer in solvents, paint strippers, greases and wax.

The Environmental Protection Agency classifies the chemical as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans” through all routes of exposure and the state is expected to adopt a maximum contamination level of 1 part per billion as was recommended by the state’s Drinking Water Council.

Phase one includes improvements to electrical systems and backup generators at the Neulist Well Station, funding a pilot study for 1,4-dioxane treatment at the Morley Park Well Station in Roslyn, design and construction for 1,4-dioxane treatment and other plant upgrades at the Hewlett Well Station and various improvements at the Stonytown Well Station.

Merklin said the reason the district is funding a pilot study for 1,4-dioxane treatment at the Morley Well Station while treatment is being designed and constructed at the Hewlett Well Station is due to the Morley wells being in a public park while the Hewlett wells are situated on land owned by the water district.

The district also needs to acquire more land for the Morley Park well treatment and therefore needs to coordinate with Nassau County who owns the park.

“So we are not really prepared to do that one first,” Merklin said, “but that’s really going to be one of the ones that happen later on.”

The first phase is projected to cost $16.1 million. Those with a home valued at $1 million would pay an extra $185 per year to cover the cost of the bond, Merklin said.  

The second phase of the five-year plan requires more structuring and should be finalized in the next few months, while the cost has yet to be determined, the district’s engineer said.

Phase two is expected to include the design and construction of 1,4-dioxane treatment system for Morley Park Station; various upgrades at Sandy Hollow Station, Bar Beach Station and Southport Station; chemical injection and construction of an above-ground structure for the well at the Rick’s Well Station; improvements to the Neulist Tank; and the replacement of undersized water mains throughout the district.

Plans and a bond report will be made available on the Port Washington Water District’s website and a public hearing will be held before the Town of North Hempstead, said Port Washington Water District Commissioner Mindy Germain.

“With 1,4-dioxane, the cost of keeping your water safe will go up,” Germain said.  “It will still be your cheapest utility, but the cost of keeping your water safe is just going to become more expensive.”

With the current bond, the water district replaced the Beacon Hill Water Tank, installed a nitrate treatment facility and a packed tower aeration facility, installed new fire hydrants and replaced over 4,000 feet of new 8-inch water mains, rehabilitated multiple wells to improve reliability and production and made repairs to the Southport elevated water storage tank.

A representative from the state Department of Environmental Conservation discussed the water conservation initiative the department started a few years back.

She said the department challenged water suppliers to reduce its water consumption by 15 percent.

“When we announced our water conservation initiative, Port Washington Water District jumped at the chance to spearhead the program,” she said.

The district’s “Be Smart and Green, Save 15” campaign encourages water consumers in its service area to reduce water use during peak season, provides information and instruction for water reduction and reviews existing and proposed irrigation systems.

“The Port Washington Water District also initiated a smart irrigation pilot test at its headquarters and has experienced significant savings in irrigation use on that property,” she said.

The district encourages consumers to install smart irrigation controls for their lawns. The system considers the amount of rainfall in the area and will not activate to water the lawn when the amount of rain reaches a level where watering would be redundant.

The Port Washington Water District also prohibits consumers from watering their lawns for more than two hours in a single day.

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