Public Works Director Robert Mangan urged trustees to approve a costly but important $2.1 million bond resolution to help continue keeping Garden City's water supply safe.
With Well 8 out of service for over a year now, Well 12's levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are on the rise. Both well sites are located at the Garden City Country Club.
It's suspected that Garden City's water became contaminated because of the Jackson Steel site, an inactive "roll form metal shapes" manufacturing facility located in Mineola.
Jackson Steel operated at the site as early as 1970 and ceased all operations in 1991. Degreasers, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) website, including tetrachloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE) and 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA), were used at the facility until March 1985. Sludges from degreasing equipment were stored in drums.
Nassau County's Department of Health discovered improper spill control at the waste storage area while inspecting the facility in 1981. According to EPA officials, more than 300,000 people obtain drinking water from wells screened in the aquifers that are or could be potentially affected by contamination emanating from the site. Garden City's Well 12 is located within a half-mile radius of the site.
Mangan, who believes it's important to remain proactive, wants to increase the treatment levels at both well sites through use of a larger air-stripping tower at Well 12. Piping is already in place from Well 8 to Well 12 to aid in the increased treatment.
"Last summer we got through with enough water but if we lost that well we would have had to go outside the village for water," Mangan explained. "This project is needed and has been planned for two years."
Trustee Donald Brudie, who represents Central, was hesitant to vote in favor of spending $2.1 million during a time of fiscal constraint.
"I wish we could put this off for at least a year because we're going to be facing a tough budgetary time for the 2009-2010 budget," Trustee Brudie said. "Is it necessary to do both at one time?"
VOC levels at Well 8 hovered at 4 parts per million (ppm) - 5 ppm being the max- before being taken out of service while levels at Well 12 had already reached 2 ppm and were rising just as recently as the summer of 2008. Mangan admitted the village opted to take Well 8 out of service before it hit 5 ppm to avoid a Nassau County Health Department violation.
"Without going forward with this project, we face a loss of two wells, which will make it very difficult to get by next summer," Mangan said.
The $2.1 million expenditure needed to increase the air-stripping tower at Well 12 is coming out of the village's Water Fund, an enterprise fund that still pulls from the pockets of Garden City taxpayers. Trustees passed the bond resolution by a 7-1 vote (Trustee Brudie voted against it). "The residents still have to pay for this," Brudie argued.
The project will take more than six months to complete and the village could possibly recoup monies through a Department of Conservation (DEC) reimbursement. Village officials met with EPA officials several weeks back. Additional testing is currently being performed to back up the village's theory that its water contamination is a direct result of the Jackson Steel site.
Sive, Paget & Riesel, a leader in environmental law, commenced action on behalf of the village against those parties believed to be responsible for the contamination, Village Counsel Gary Fishberg noted earlier this month.
"They've also been interfacing with the EPA, who has had some dealings with one of the parties that we're suing," Fishberg continued, "and we're trying to convince the EPA to see things the village's way so that any settlement the EPA may make with this party doesn't adversely affect our lawsuit."