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Feb 19, 2019 9:26 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Water District Officials Dispute Test Results Showing High Manganese Levels In Drinking Water

Anca Dura reviews the results of manganese tests. VALERIE GORDON
Feb 22, 2019 2:41 PM

Hampton Bays Water District officials are disputing test results released by the Suffolk County Water Authority, which showed high levels of manganese in the district’s water supply last year.

Water authority officials tested the Ponquogue Avenue district’s 11 wells in September after a series of water district customers suffered periods of discolored water with little to no pressure. In July, water district Superintendent Robert King attributed those issues to a strain on the system, caused by the district’s three out-of-service wells.

Last year, Mr. King was forced to shut off three of the district’s wells after two contaminants—perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA—were detected during routine testing.

The wells were put back into service in July after water authority test results showed that a recently installed $1 million carbon filtration system was effective in removing the contaminants.

However, at a public hearing to discuss a recent proposal to have the water authority take over management of the locally-owned district, the authority’s CEO, Jeff Szabo, disclosed that the test results also showed high levels of manganese.

Water authority officials declined to speak specifically about the results on Thursday, according to Tim Motz, the water authority’s director of communications, and a Freedom of Information Act request seeking a copy of the results was not immediately accommodated on Monday.

In June 2018—the most recent water testing results available on the water district’s website—eight of the district’s in-service wells were tested, showing manganese results far below the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s limit of 0.3 mg/L.

Well field 4-1 showed manganese levels of 0.14 mg/L, whereas well field 4-2 showed results of 0.10 mg/L. The remaining well fields were all below 0.04 mg/L.

All of the district’s tests are done quarterly through Melville- based Pace Analytical, whereas the water authority does in-house testing at its Hauppauge location twice a year as required by state and federal law.

Neither Mr. King nor Warren Booth, who currently serves as a maintenance mechanic for the district, could offer an explanation for the contradicting results. Mr. King did say, however, that it’s “absolutely not” possible for water results to vary drastically within a three-month time frame.

Both agency’s water samples were collected directly from the wells, or what Mr. Booth called “raw well samples”—which tests the water prior to its distribution to produce the most accurate results.

In addition to routine water testing, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services offers potable water analysis through its division of environmental quality public and environmental health laboratory to interested homeowners.

In July 2018, a private water analysis was done at 30 Nautilus Drive in Hampton Bays, revealing manganese concentration levels of 4.9 mg/L.

Mr. Booth added that well field 1 often shows the highest levels of manganese. However, he explained that there are multiple wells within each of the district’s well fields, which essentially allows the water to blend together, further diluting any elements such as manganese or iron.

“When out in distribution, it’s a non-detect,” he said, noting that all of the district’s results are submitted to the Suffolk County Board of Health. “If we have an issue, the board of health is going to call us.”

Jason Hime, the supervisor for the Bureau of Drinking Water for the Suffolk County Department of Health, could not be reached this week for comment.

According to the EPA’s website, the agency has two standards that apply to public water systems: the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations, or NPDWRs, and the National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations, or NSDWRs. The secondary regulations are referred to as guidelines to assist water districts in managing their drinking water for aesthetic conditions.

Manganese concentrations are recommended to be below 0.05 mg/L under the secondary regulations to prevent discolored water, according to the EPA.

It reads: “These contaminants are not considered to present a risk to human health. If these contaminants are present in your water at levels above these standards, the contaminants may cause the water to appear cloudy or colored, or to taste or smell bad. This may cause a great number of people to stop using water from their public water system even though the water is actually safe to drink.”

In a report on the harmful effects of manganese, the EPA wrote that when consumed orally, it “is often regarded as one of the least toxic elements.” Short-term exposure studies have shown symptoms including lethargy, increased muscle tone, tremor and mental disturbances.

To remove manganese from the hamlet’s water supply, water authority officials have offered—as part of a bid to take over operations of the water district—to install a $2.6 million iron and manganese filtration system. Under the proposal, the cost of system, as well as an additional $11.4 million in infrastructure upgrades, would be shared with the authority’s 1.2 million customer base.

If the Town Board, which acts as commissioners of the water district, opts to upgrade the system without assistance from the water authority, hamlet residents could see their water bills increase by roughly $300 per year, on average, according to Southampton Town Comptroller Leonard Marchese.

During a SCWA laboratory tour on Thursday, February 14, Laboratory Manager Chris Niebling explained that the water authority currently operates 31 iron and manganese filtration systems throughout Suffolk County.

“We take clean water very seriously,” he said.

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The current management of HBWD can not be trusted with the safety of our water supply. They are poisoning everyone in HB. They then attempt to cover it up with lies and half-truths.
By Bayman (56), Hampton Bays on Feb 19, 19 1:42 PM
1 member liked this comment
Did that employee of the HBWD ever pay back the money he stole from the HB High School scholarship fund?
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Feb 19, 19 3:09 PM
2 members liked this comment
Why is Warren Booth allowed to be in any position of trust? Why would anyone believe a thief?
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on Feb 19, 19 7:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
Humpin' Bays, Suffering County. Wrong Island
By themarlinspike (542), southampton on Feb 20, 19 9:42 AM
It wasn't the HB High School scholarship fund. Not that it matters. But if you are going to bring it up constantly at least get a fact or two straight.

Have you vetted the staff at SCWA? I'm sure you'll find plenty of skeletons when you do.
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Feb 20, 19 2:20 PM
And the Fire Department that caused the polliuted water supply? Why Mr. King is there too! What a bunch of nitwits we all are for voting for this nonsense year after year: From 27east:

"Messages left for four of the five Hampton Bays fire commissioners—Chairman Kevin Kenny, and commissioners Kevin Connelly, Gerard M. Buckley and Richard A. Durand—were not returned this week. Rob King, the fifth commissioner, said on Tuesday that all questions regarding the audit are being ...more
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Feb 19, 19 3:20 PM
Doesnt matter where you are on Long Island the water is horrible. I’ve written articles to news day about my horrible results from SCWA and it seems to never get published. It’s crazy how political this has turned and how upset the politicians are not getting there way. Drain the TOS swamp. Let’s see how much headlines lofstad will make now since hiding all these years. No emails or calls back. It’s election year all these joker politicians will show up. Dump them all
By watchoutnow968 (56), Southampton on Feb 19, 19 5:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
Hey dfree god rest his soul but mr. Yes Buckley is deceased. So if they wanted to call him it’s too late.
By Hbproud (6), Hampton Bays on Feb 19, 19 5:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
If anybody think that 1960 water district is safe your smoking pot. It's a joke they spend their time at the firehouse and have no accountability.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Feb 19, 19 9:34 PM
The joke is on us for not demanding that this tax supported club house not get turned over to Suffolk County immediately.
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Feb 20, 19 9:33 AM
You do undearstand that the SCWA is a private corporation like LIPA, LILCO, ect. So its ok to sell a department of the government to a private corporation so they can profit. Lets sell the medicare department to blue cross. Sound good to you?
By summer2001 (8), Hampton Bays on Feb 23, 19 9:26 AM
SCWA is a non-profit, so they can not profit. There is no selling of anything, what is proposed is a management agreement. We still own everything and can cancel the management agreement at anytime.
By Bayman (56), Hampton Bays on Mar 3, 19 12:21 PM
bb That's your answer for Warren Booth stealing from a scholarship fund is too check the SCWA employees? People steal a fraction of what he did and get jail time and he didn't. With your reasoning I pray you don't have kids.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Feb 21, 19 8:14 PM
The same people get shuffled from Board of Ed to local closed clubs like the Fire and Water department. Armed guards in brand new $60,000 trucks labeled Bay Constable drive around making sure only their friends have duck blinds and what do we get? Carcinogenic drinking water, $500 to $1000 per month property taxes and a town that has vacant stores, an empty diner, and plenty of expensive healthcare. This is what happens when politicians don't have accountability.
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Feb 22, 19 6:27 AM
My first question as a person who follows trust but confirm, who verify the independent testing and procedures done by suffolk county water on their wells?

And two, if the town has been aware of the issues with the wells why haven they used CPF funds to correct the issue like they did for westhampton and east quogue?

Allowing SCWA TO TAKE OVER will not prevent the increase in water bills, it will only reduce control over our assets. The wells. Southampton town board is sleeping ...more
By summer2001 (8), Hampton Bays on Feb 23, 19 7:50 AM
"Who verify" indeed. Who verifies that the Fire Department is now following proper financial procedures after the wife of it's leader, who also happens to be the head of finance for the same department, was cited for improper payments years ago? What happens when this department is not testing carcinogenic foam over our drinking water? How much money does the department collect from the annual Carnival and the booths that line the road? Where is that money spent? How do we know what a Water ...more
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Feb 23, 19 9:42 AM
Welcome to our dystopian future where only the privledges can afford safe water to drink and clean air to breathe. I'm lucky and can afford fancy corporate bottled water (Esca is my fav) and high-end air purifiers (highly recommend Austin Air). The privatization of commoditized water has been happening for decades. Lung Guyland has been poisoning is aquifers since at least the 1950's, we will reap what we sow : (
By Aeshtron (431), Southampton on Feb 24, 19 10:16 AM
There is a member of the Hampton Bays Water Department found GUILTY of stealing scholarship funds from Hampton Bays high school students. Has this money ever been paid back? That's a yes or no question.
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Feb 26, 19 6:51 AM
It is so sad that nasty people have nothing better to do but rehash the same things in their comments ,especially when they don't know what they are talking about. dfree The money was paid back immediately , and he didn't go to jail but he was held accountable. And above you asked someone if they have children ,Do you ? And do you work ? because you seem to have a lot of time to be on here and talk non stop . What skelotons are in your closet ?
By fedupx100 (3), Hampton Bays on Feb 27, 19 4:05 PM
"The money was paid back immediately"
That's an interesting statement, and I was not able to find a reference to that anywhere online. When exactly did this take place? And what was the source of funds for Mr. Booth to make this payment?
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Mar 1, 19 5:35 AM
What kind of Chief are you !
By fedupx100 (3), Hampton Bays on Feb 27, 19 4:06 PM
SCWA is trying to take over HBWD so why trust their tests? Seems a conflict of interest to me.
By HB90 (164), southampton on Feb 28, 19 3:08 PM
THE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT (NOT SCWA) PERFORMED THE TEST THAT SHOWED THE BLACK WATER WAS UNSAFE TO DRINK. The black water was contaminated with manganese 16 times over the limit (4.9/.3). Robert Kling and Warren Booth said the black water was safe to drink. We now know it was not.
By Bayman (56), Hampton Bays on Mar 3, 19 9:50 AM
After all the corruption at the fire house and the water district you think the scwa would stop to their level?
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 2, 19 5:40 PM