Garden City residents anxious about $48 M water filtration project
The Garden City Board of Trustees discussed a $48 million water filtration system at their meeting on Oct. 3 that will affect many concerned citizens and their water bills. New York state discovered recently that the water on Long Island contains emerging contaminants that they believe are necessary to filter out as soon as they possibly can. This project is a response to water regulations the state has put in place in order to combat this issue.
“They [the state] are looking to impose these regulations on January 1,” said Joseph Difrancisco, the superintendent of Public Works for the Village of Garden City. “Unless things change between now and Jan. 1, we will be forced to install new filtration systems throughout the village in a very short time frame.”
The plan will pay for “ultraviolet advanced oxidation equipment” from Trojan Technologies, a single source supplier based in Canada, and any other required construction and maintenance costs. This equipment could be delivered as soon as March and could be installed very soon after, assuming the state moves forward with imposing these regulations on all Long Island water districts by the beginning of 2020.
Difrancisco asked the board to waive purchasing rules so that this circumstance could be considered an emergency situation and so Garden City could purchase these products quickly and directly to meet the state’s impending regulations. The board complied, and voted to pass the motion unanimously.
“We know what’s staring at us, we know how to fix it. Mr. Difrancisco is asking for us to say it’s an emergency to get it, and I don’t know if anybody here would disagree,” Trustee Louis M. Minuto said. “If we have to vote on it, let’s do it right now and get it done.”
Concerned residents voiced their concerns about how this project would affect their water bills. Many were confused about how much money was being used for specific aspects, and when they would see the results of all of this planning the board was doing.
“It comes back to when the state decides they’re going to impose new regulations,” said Difrancisco. “If they give us time it could be two, three, four years. If not, it could be fairly quickly.”
The trustees’ lack of definitive knowledge on the project agitated and confused residents. Mayor Theresa Trouve tried to reassure attendees that the details of the issue would be ironed out and reported back to the public as soon as possible.
“We are doing the best that we can. We are following the steps that are reasonable and logical to find all of the information that we need to make a final decision and we have your best interest at heart,” Trouve said. Claims were made that the board doesn’t keep the public well-informed, and Trouve addressed that issue as well, saying that everything the board does is publicized with the community’s best interest.
Tension continued to build throughout the evening. Many said their voices weren’t being heard, and repeatedly asked for public referendums in order to debate the situation, but the board continued to reiterate the urgency and importance of providing the community with clean water. “Everything doesn’t have to be a battle,” Minuto said. “We’re all in this literally together. We all drink the same water.”