Port Washington Water District seeks $16M bond for capital improvements

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Port Washington Water District seeks $16M bond for capital improvements

The Port Washington Water District is seeking approval from the Town of North Hempstead for a $16 million bond that will be used to fund phase one of the district’s capital improvement plan. 

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

A public hearing on the bond is scheduled at North Hempstead Town Hall on Aug. 13 at 7 p.m.

The majority of improvements in phase one involve the treatment of 1,4-dioxane, a substance classified by the EPA as a likely carcinogen and often used in the manufacturing of other chemicals. 

In December, the state’s Drinking Water Quality Council recommended a maximum contamination level for 1,4-dioxane of 1 part per billion. Earlier this month, the state health commissioner ordered the state Department of Health to begin the process of adopting 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. 

Bill Merklin of D&B Engineers and Architects, the water district’s engineer, said the district will most likely to use an ultraviolet-hydrogen peroxide treatment where hydrogen peroxide is injected into the water and the water is run through an ultraviolet unit which together destroy the contaminants.  

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 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. 

Merklin said he doesn’t expect that 1,4-dioxane treatment will be needed at all of the district’s 12 wells. 

Mindy Germain, a commissioner with the Port water district, said that despite the upcoming construction of multiple water treatment systems, the water that consumers are currently drinking is below the recommended maximum contamination level of 1,4-dioxane. She said as soon as the contaminant was identified, the district made operational changes to ensure the water that is distributed is safe, and now the district is following through with a long-term fix for the contaminant. 

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. 

Some of the work in phase one is already underway, according to Merklin. He said the district wanted to address 1,4-dioxane as soon as possible and take time to structure a five-year capital improvements master plan which will be phase two of the project. 

For phase two, the district is evaluating all of its infrastructure to determine the needs and set a timeline for repairs. A draft of the master plan is expected next month and it is to be finalized before the close of the summer. 

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

Germain said the board is working with an outside consultant to determine how to best handle a rate increase without putting too much burden on the taxpayers. 

Merklin said the district received notification that it has been awarded $3 million from the state as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act. The money will be used for 1,4-dioxane treatment at the Morley Park well station and will offset the costs of phase two. 

He said the district is planning to submit similar applications for the 1,4-dioxane treatment of the Stonytown and Hewlett well stations, which if approved will lower the cost of the first phase of the project. 

The Port Washington Water District is hosting two public information sessions at its district office before the town’s public hearing. The first session will be held on July 31 at 8:30 a.m. and the second will be held Aug. 1 at 7 p.m.

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