Step by step, ridding East Meadow’s water of chemicals


There are 13 ongoing water remediation projects for the Town of Hempstead’s Water Department including three related to water in East Meadow.

The East Meadow project includes wells 1 and 3 on Prospect Avenue West, wells 5 and 11 on Prospect Avenue East, and East Meadow Site II with wells 6 and 8.

The town’s water department pumps 18 million gallons of water each day to over 120,000 customers. The East Meadow Water District, within the town’s water department, serves 40,000 customers, including several schools, Nassau University Medical Center, and Eisenhower Park.

Each project site is on its own timeline, with some projects already underway. The status of each site can be found on the Town of Hempstead Water Department website. Providing the information helps the town be in compliance with their deferral application.

“When (water districts) first applied for the deferral, they did it with a plan that they would be getting the filtration technology purchased and implemented,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “Now this is the year they that they need to get it implemented.

“The New York State Health Department adopted a drinking water standard, but with that standard, they allowed water supply districts to apply for what’s called a deferral, which means that the water districts are working on getting treatment technology, but just couldn’t wave a magic wand and get it quickly.”

The advanced oxidation process will take out 1,4 dioxane and perfluorooctane sulfonate, which is typically found in firefighting foams. It will also remove perfluorooctanoic acid, most commonly used in nonstick products. The state health department set a maximum contaminant level for all three contaminants in 2020.

The latest report by the town water department, released Jan. 9, explained the progress at the well sites in the fourth quarter of 2022.

According to the document, the town board chose the Trojan UV Flex system as the sole vendor of the ultraviolet light generators for the advanced oxidation process projects in 2021. For wells 1 and 2, P. W. Grosser, a consultant company from Bohemia, has finished the preparation for its pilot study and basis of design reports and has received 100 percent approval from state and county health departments.

The quarterly report stated that there are no delays for the project, and contractors started construction of a new building to house well 3 along with the UV reactor and hydrogen peroxide treatment. The UV reactors will be delivered when building construction allows.

According to Town of Hempstead Water Commissioner John Reinhardt, the town received $3 million in state funds in 2019 to clean up wells 1 and 2.

For the Prospect Avenue east project with wells 5 and 11, H2M architects and engineers, from Melville, was granted approval for its project in 2021.

“Work at the site has begun with the demolition of an existing structure, site clearing, and prep and asbestos remediation work performed at the existing well buildings,” the online report stated. “Bluescope, the prefabricated building manufacturer, has advised that the building manufacturing is on schedule.”

The UV reactors are scheduled for delivery as the building is constructed in the first quarter of this year.

The money from the omnibus spending bill is allocated for the East Meadow Site II with wells 6 and 8, Reinhardt said. For this project, design plans were finalized, and bid documents were prepared with bidding expected to start early this year.

Funding for these projects, aside from money obtained from the state and the federal governments, came from more than $90 million in bond resolutions approved by the town board in December 2020 for the first phase of the projects, and an additional $45 million in August 2021 for second phase.

“The Town is doing everything it can to ensure residents do not have to bear this financial burden,” the town website states. “We will continue to pursue all grant opportunities which become available.”

The fight for water standards, funding to pay for the remediation projects, and the process of trying to hold those who created the chemicals accountable has been a long and arduous process.

“Access to clean, safe drinking water is a right,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “I will continue to fight tooth and nail to keep safe, healthy, and crystal-clear drinking water flowing to Long Islanders.”

In 2017, Schumer petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to require manufacturers to remove 1,4 dioxane from consumer products.

Former town supervisor Laura Gillen announced her plan to sue the manufacturers that polluted the town’s water with 1,4 dioxane in 2019. The suit was filed, and Sher Edling LLP, a San Francisco law firm, took the case.

“(The case) is still moving, we like to say pre-global warming glacial speed in the court system,” Esposito said. “It hasn’t even been heard yet, it’s just moving through the system.”

Current town supervisor Don Clavin thanked Schumer in a statement for his help in getting money for the town.

“The acquisition of these funds will go a long way in upgrading the water treatment facilities in East Meadow,” Clavin said. “And we are grateful for the support at the federal level.”