The Town of Southold has been awarded a grant of $611,363 from the State of New York under the Lead Service Line Replacement Program.
The funding is part of a $20 million statewide grant from the state Department of Health to improve the quality of residential drinking water by replacing older pipes that may contain lead. Grants will be used to replace lead service lines from municipal water mains to residences, according to a press release. Piping inside homes will not be replaced under this grant.
“These critical improvements to New York’s drinking water infrastructure are vital to protecting public health and to laying the foundation for future growth and economic prosperity in these communities,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press release. “With this $20 million award, we are helping to protect residents and their families across this state and are creating a stronger, healthier New York.”
The Lead Service Line Replacement Program is a key component of New York’s Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017, according to a press release. The water at houses built before the 1940s contains higher amounts of lead because regulations were not in place. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that lead-contaminated drinking water can account for 20 percent or more of a person’s overall lead exposure.
The Village of Greenport will see most of this money, according to Denis Noncarrow, government liaison offer for Southold Town. Since most homes in the town use wells, they will not be eligible. Greenport, however, still has a lot of piping that was installed in the 1800s. Mr. Noncarrow said the town is researching maps to verify when piping was installed and investigate where other areas may need replacements.
Southold is one of four Long Island towns to receive this grant. Eligibility was determined based on the percentage of children with elevated blood levels of lead, median household incomes and the number of homes built before 1939.
The cost of updating water service lines to one house is estimated at $7,500. Only 80 to 100 homes will be able to receive updates before next year, when more grant money may become available.
The next step for the town is to notify community members. Homeowners who are interested in having their pipes replaced will be able to reach out to the town to have their water tested once it is verified that they are not on a well system.
“There is a big public communication process with this,” Mr. Noncarrow said. “If anyone wants to put their name on the list, I’ll keep a list on my desk and we can circle back once we get the process going.”
This is a reimbursement grant, meaning the town will have to lay out the money first and be reimbursed by the state at a later date. Since this is still in the beginning phases, there is no set start time for work to begin.
“It’s a good thing and it’s going to be quite a bit of work for us, but it’s a very positive thing,” Mr. Noncarrow added. “I’m looking forward to getting started and helping some people out for sure.”