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Water District Starts Construction For Water Treatment System

Precautionary Measure for Contaminated Plume Near Wells

South Farmingdale Water District recently started construction on a new water treatment system as a precaution against a contaminated plume close to their well fields.

The land was cleared for construction of the treatment system, located on the water district’s site on Langdon Road in Farmingdale over a week ago water district officials said.

The groundwater contamination plume is carrying primarily trichloroethene, according to James Neri, an H2M water engineer who is working on the project. Phil Carlucci of Philip Ross Industries Inc., the contractor building the treatment system, explained that years ago the water district identified the plume as a possible hazard so the Navy installed monitoring wells to, “go between you and the bad stuff. When they get impacted you know how much time you have before it gets to you.”

The monitoring wells became impacted, a “telltale sign that it was coming,” Carlucci said.

Neri said those wells are clean now and are monitored regularly but the district decided to take the measure of installing the water treatment system before the wells become impacted again.

Neri explained the treatment system for organic contamination as using a packed tower aerator as well as using iron removal, boosting and pumping facilities.

“Drinking water is pumped to the top of the tower and cascades down to the bottom. While that is happening, fresh air passes by the cascading water causing volatile organics to migrate out of the water stream. Thus the finished water is of a lower volatile contamination, “ Neri said.

The 28-foot tower will be enclosed in the 45-foot tall building that is under construction so it won’t be visible from the outside, Neri said. The treatment system will ultimately be able to pump 5.5 million gallons of water per day to the third of the water district that the site serves.

The plume comes from the former Grumman Aerospace and Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plants in Bethpage, operated by Grumman and the US Navy. An ongoing discussion with the Navy resulted in an agreement that if contamination in the South Farmingdale Water District’s wells were found to come from the Grumman/Navy site, the Navy would pay to have it reconciled.

Although the contamination was found to have come from the Grumman/Navy site the district still has not received any compensation and thus approved a bond to pay for the $8.6 million project.

The water district decided that the risk of waiting for Navy funds was too great and thus approved the bond to pay for the construction of the project in March of this year.

The water district said when they receive the check from the Navy, the proceeds will be used to retire the bond and pay for future operation and maintenance costs.

This project is to “keep the water quality what it’s supposed to be,” said Ralph Atoria, chairman of the Board of Commissioners for the South Farmingdale Water District. “We’re being proactive instead of reactive and the town has been very helpful in attaining the bond to pay for it.”

The Town of Oyster Bay passed an $18 million bond in September 2008 to pay for operations and maintenance of the project.

“I’m so impressed with the hard work today that will mean the highest quality of drinking water,” Assemblyman Joseph Saladino said at the ground breaking.

Completion of the project is expected to be in April 2011.