Fixing Hempstead’s water will cost $55 million


To combat the high levels of what is called 1,4 dioxane — a byproduct of such consumer products as soap and detergent — a $55 million facility will need to be built in the Village of Hempstead. The village will need to borrow $50 million.

The village’s water plant is more than 100 hundred years old and all nine wells in the municipality were found to contain 1,4 level dioxane in the water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention termed dioxane a “likely human carcinogen” that could cause liver and kidney cancer.

Chemicals are currently being used to reduce the dioxane levels based on state standards. The new filtration system — to be built in five phases — will be a complete renovation of the existing system.

“Here in the Village of Hempstead we’ve taken measures to make sure we address the 1,4 dioxane in the water,” Mayor Waylyn Hobbs Jr. said.

“Now although there are still ongoing studies on the effect on this on human beings, most of the tests have been done on lab animals. Here in the Village of Hempstead, we don’t want to wait to find out what the results are that affect our residents, that’s why we are acting now to remove the high levels of dioxane in the water.”

Hobbs and other elected officials spoke at what they called an “emergency press conference at the Hempstead Water Plant on May 22. The plant, on Clinton Street, serves 59,169 village residents, officials said.

“I am asking as we stand with our other elected officials to ask the state and our federal government to assist the residents of the Village of Hempstead in covering the cost of this close to $55 million facility,” Hobbs said.

Village residents, who already pay high property taxes, will incur a tax increase to pay for the project. The water payments already increased from one time a year to four times a year, without knowing if clean water was available

“Some of the residents that pay the most property taxes in Nassau County, were the residents of the incorporated Village of Hempstead,” Clavin said. “This is just something that they can’t afford, but at the same time the mayor’s passion for making sure the residents have clean water with his board is something I’m working on town-wide.”

“It is not fair that the residents have to drink the water and then provide their own water with the amount of high taxes they are paying,” said Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, who represents the village.

J. Robert Holzmacher, the village’s engineering consultant, said the first phase will cost $27 million to provide an advanced oxidation process to remove contaminants, including 1,4 dioxane.

“It’s going to take us several years to implement a brand new facility, the village tried a number of other approaches to try and get other locations but that was unsuccessful,” Holzmacher said.

New filtration systems, which require a temporary reduction in water quality, are a part of phases two and three that will cost $23 million and was approved within the bond.

“We will have multiple types of filtration and oxidation, our treatment cost will go up substantially,” Holzmacher said. “Right now we try to work with very few chemicals to raise the ph levels and make sure the water is safe to drink and use.”

Phases four and five will bring back water capacity and will cost $5 million. This includes the demolition of existing treatment basins and building a new water storage tank.

“If we did not create this problem, someone else should be paying for it,” Hobbs said.