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Letter: Water District Receives Settlement Fund

On behalf of the South Farmingdale Water District and Board of Commissioners, I have very exciting news to report; news that will give confidence and comfort to all residents in the South Farmingdale Water District.

After five years of negotiations, The District finally received a settlement fund in the amount of $14.55 million from the United States Navy, Department of Defense. These funds will cover the construction, maintenance and operating costs of our new water treatment system to protect our water supply from an impending plume of contaminates. The treatment system is being built at Plant 1 on Langdon Road in Farmingdale.

This payment comes after a long, complex struggle, first with the Department of Defense, then with the Department of Justice to disburse these funds.

If you recall, the United States Navy operated the Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant in Bethpage, New York for several decades resulting in significant soil and groundwater contamination. While the Navy was in accord with the necessity for water treatment facilities, the final resolution and execution of the settlement agreement had simply not been a priority for the Department of Justice.

Due to the impending contamination, our Board determined that it could not wait any longer to receive the approved funds from the Department of Justice. Preventive measures had to be taken to protect our public water supply.

Therefore, a bond issue was approved to cover the costs of construction, operation and maintenance of the treatment plant as an interim measure.  

Special thanks to Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto and the Town Board for their extraordinary efforts to structure and secure this bond.  Construction began this past spring and is expected to be completed by spring 2011.

The continuing good news is Plant 1 will be completed on time and on budget by spring 2011. By receiving the funds from the Department of Defense, we can successfully retire the bonds and there will be no cost to the taxpayers.

It cannot be overemphasized how important a role U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) played in resolving this matter. His tireless efforts and persistence in communicating with the United States Attorney General was instrumental in our efforts to expedite the settlement and receive the funds.

Local civic associations also took significant action most notably from the North Massapequa Civic Association led by Rose Hobbins, and Citizens For Pure Water led by Diane Losurdo. Their contributions are incalculable.

With the victory and justice come pure water…no new costs to consumers and no increased taxes.  I also wish to thank all our concerned customers, the local media, and all organizations and firms who helped in this matter.

We can be certain of a lasting, healthful, high-quality supply of water for now and future generations!

Ralph Atoria

Chairman of the Board

South Farmingdale Water District