Roughly 50 residents crowded the community room at the West Hempstead Public Library on March 4 for a meeting hosted by the West Hempstead Community Support Association with local water providers. New York American Water and the West Hempstead Water District, along with a representative from State Sen. Todd Kaminsky’s office, met with residents to discuss current plans and listen to their concerns.
Many were disturbed about discolored water. “Our No. 1 complaint from our customers is about discolored water, and that’s due to iron,” said Richard Kern, NYAW’s vice president. “We’re conducting a large-scale study to look at our water treatment chemicals. We think it’s going to have a positive impact on reducing colored water.”
Since 2008, NYAW has replaced 7,500 water mains in West Hempstead. Despite the company’s efforts, Lynda DiMenna, its president, said she recognized that more work needed to be done to address customers’ needs.
“Besides the iron filtration plants that we’ve installed and put in the distribution system,” DiMenna said, “we’ve seen that we need to do more, and that’s why we’re taking this water quality study. What I can assure you is that we meet all federal, state and local water quality standards. We’ve heard our customers and we’re trying to do better.”
The West Hempstead Water District installed an iron removal treatment plant in 1999. Before that, Robert York, the district’s superintendent, said, it had received numerous complaints about the discolored water.
“This plant removed all the iron from the water when it was installed,” York said, “but from time to time, if a street sweeper goes by the fire hydrant, or if there’s a fire in the area, it does affect the system where you could get brown water periodically. But that usually dissipates within an hour or so.”
The West Hempstead Water District is nearing the completion of a 165-foot-tall tower that will provide water to over 8,000 households. Construction of the tank began in 2017 and its concrete pedestal has been rising since last summer. Once the steel container “bowl” is locked into place, finishing touches on the tank will be completed over the next three months.
“The existing tank does not satisfy current structural standards related to hurricane wind and seismic load conditions,” York said of the tank, which was built around 1938. “The standards back then were completely different.”
American Water, which takes 150,000 samples per year from West Hempstead’s water well, said that there is no detection of 1,4-dioxane. Kern explained to residents that home water filtration systems often do more harm than good.
“What happens is [iron] gets trapped on the filter surfaces, and that can cause discoloration,” Kern said. “There’s no water filter that you can buy on the market that’s going to remove 1,4-dioxane or the things that you can remove in our water treatment system.”
DiMenna added that NYAW has collaborated with the Nassau County Department of Health to providing clean, uncontaminated water, and that they need to stay on the same page every step of the way.
“If there’s any chemical change that we need to make, it has to be formally approved by them,” DiMenna said of the health department. “They are formally engaged in the process already, and we hope to continue that.”