Two veterans of the Port’s water district seek commissioner seat

David Brackett and Peter Whitcomb are running for a three-year seat on the Port Washington Water District's Board of Commissioners. (Photos courtesy of David Brackett and Peter Whitcomb)

It’s a case of friendly competition in this year’s water commissioner election.

David Brackett, who has sat on the Board of Commissioners since 1992, is up for re-election for another three-year term on the three-member board. His opponent is Peter Whitcomb, who recently retired from the Port Washington Water District after having worked there for 14 years.

Some of the main topics for discussion this year include saltwater intrusion, New York City’s use of Long Island aquifers and updates to the district’s water infrastructure.

Brackett became involved with Port’s water district when he grew concerned about the Port Washington landfill, also known as the Town of North Hempstead L-4 landfill, contaminating a well owned by the water district.  He and some other residents of the village formed a group called Citizens Concerned About the Landfill.

After getting involved with another group centered on a proposed incinerator site for the Town of North Hempstead, a friend of Brackett told him that he was not seeking re-election and suggested that he run in his place. Brackett has sat on the board ever since.

Whitcomb was a water plant operator in the district who retired last March and is running for commissioner to stay involved with his former workplace. 

He said he has no qualms about the way the district is being run, he just wants to “reassure and back up the work that is already done.”

Brackett is a proponent of water conservation and calls it a main tool to combat a number of concerns, including saltwater intrusion.

Saltwater intrusion occurs when “pressure from the freshwater side decreases,” Brackett said. The decrease in pressure typically results from pumping out the freshwater, and that is where conservation comes into play.

“One of the reasons we feel we have to look at it is to protect the resource for people 50 to 100 years from now,” he said.

Whitcomb said that saltwater intrusion is not a problem in Port Washington and “it is unlikely that it will be.” If it were to become a problem, however,  he said, the district will do “whatever needs to be done.”

In regard to updating Port’s water infrastructure, both candidates agree that current systems need to be analyzed and possibly replaced. They both pointed at the Soundview neighborhood in Port Washington North as the next area being looked at.

When making updates to the infrastructure, Brackett looks at it as if he was a next-door neighbor to the water system in question. When doing construction, he said, the district tries to have minimal impact on those living nearby and strive for the result to be aesthetically pleasing.

Brackett said the location of the Beacon Hill water tank is now “a beautifully landscaped piece of property.”

With New York City seeking temporary access to Long Island aquifers, Brackett and Whitcomb agree that a study should be conducted on how this would affect the island’s residents.

Brackett said: “I am OK with it as long as they prove to me that it will not damage Nassau County aquifers.” He added that the wells with the heaviest impact will be those in southwest Nassau County.  

Whitcomb echoed this sentiment, saying that if “if they can prove it won’t interfere, then I think we can help them out.”

Voting will take place at the Polish American Hall at 5 Pulaski Place on Tuesday  from noon to 9 p.m.


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