Water worries and
our sole source aquifer.
The East Hampton Airport
sits atop a sole source aquifer
which provides drinking water
to the East End.
Not only private wells pull water from the aquifer, Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA) also draws water from that source. It is the source of all drinking water on the East End.
▪ Aquifer designation is one tool to protect drinking water supplies in areas with few or no alternative sources to the ground water resource and where, if contamination occurred, using an alternative source would be extremely expensive.
▪ A sole or principal source aquifer is one which supplies at least fifty percent of the drinking water consumed in the area overlying the aquifer. These areas can have no alternative drinking water source(s) which could physically, legally, and economically supply all those who depend upon the aquifer for drinking water.
For convenience, all sole or principal source aquifers are referred to as "sole source aquifers" (SSA).
The NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) designated four different locations on the airport property as SuperFund sites when testing showed evidence of PFA contamination.
Fire-retardant foam stored or used at KHTO during accidents and drills in past years is likely responsible for seriously damaging our aquifer and poisoning hundreds of private wells in Wainscott, resulting in the creation of a NY State DEC Superfund clean-up expected to take many years and with a cost of $32M and growing.
Although the contaminants in groundwater identified at KHTO were found in small parts per trillion compared to other nearby airports (Gabreski in Westhampton and at Westchester County Airport), the highly fluorinated chemicals are associated with some serious health problems.
Cardiovascular concerns ( Source: EPA)
PFOAs and PFOs are among a group of over 4,000 man-made chemicals often referred to as "forever chemicals" because they don't break down over time and so remain in the environment, likely forever.
Sampling at KHTO will continue and will take many years to ascertain how deep and how far the contamination may have spread.
(Source: Nicholas Rigano, environmental counsel to Town of East Hampton, May 2021)