City hears emergency plan for well fixes


At a Glen Cove Pre-council meeting on the evening of March 6, council members were presented with a “unique” opportunity to purchase parts for a filter that could allow for a restart of the city’s wells that were closed earlier this year after contaminants were found in its water.

Bill Merklin, the senior vice president of the Civil Engineering and Water Supply Divisions of engineering firm D&B told the council that he had found a piece of old equipment through a supplier —Philip Ross Industries, based in Wyandanch — that could be refurbished into an air stripper, a piece of equipment required to filter the offending contaminant — Freon 22 — from the water.

“The issue really comes down to the timeline,” Merklin said. “We need these two wells to be back in service for the summer or else we’re going to face a significant shortfall.”

The emergency filter could be constructed and installed by June, he said, just in time for the summer. In essence, his proposal consists of paying Philip Ross Industries, which just happens to be in possession of the aluminum shell of a used air stripper, to refurbish it, outfit it with new internal hardware — the “guts,” Merklin called them — and install it at the Duck Pond facility that is home to the two downed wells.

The emergency measure would be enough to hold the city over through two summer seasons, Merklin said, by which time a permanent filter could be obtained through regular procurement procedures, which could take about two years.

The presentation came amid news that for the past six weeks, Freon 22 had been undetectable in one of the closed wells at the Duck Pond Road facility. Lou Saulino, the city’s director of public works, previously told the Herald Gazette that a letter had been drafted to the county informing them of this development.

The letter, when sent, will be a part of the city’s water compliance plan, which the county asked it to create in anticipation of the high demand for water over the summer. The emergency filter, if the council votes to approve the proposal, is expected to be a part of the compliance plan, which is due to the county on March 16.

Merklin noted that other measures that the council was considering to meet the high demands — purchasing excess water from a neighboring municipality or water provider — would likely fall short, or prove too expensive. Councilwoman Pamela Panzenbeck noted that other providers in the area have recently seen prices jump significantly. The Sea Cliff/Glen Head Herald Gazette has previously reported that customers of New York American Water, the utility that serves nearby Sea Cliff and Glen Head, have seen their bills increase by over 33 percent in recent months.

The Locust Valley Water District could only provide about 1 million gallons per day, a quarter of what they would need, and other nearby providers are facing similar situations and will be having demand troubles of their own. Jericho’s water district could only provide water on a day-to-day basis.

Mayor Tim Tenke observed, “We don’t have a lot of options,” and added that even if the city could fulfill its summer demand from nearby areas, the county has expressed a strong preference for a solution that relies on Glen Cove’s own water supply.

Merklin discussed his own cost estimates for the emergency measure at the pre-council meeting, calling them “conservative.” The council asked the press not to publicize the estimates to avoid a negative impact on the negotiations.

If Merklin can provide Charles McQuair, the city attorney, with a final cost of the project in time, the proposal is expected to be on the agenda for the council’s March 13 meeting.