A New York State grant of $9.7 million for water mains in Wainscott is good news indeed for more than 500 households. After potentially harmful chemicals were found in drinking water in the area, town and state officials, as well as the Suffolk County Water Authority, acted quickly. About eight and a half miles of underground pipe is almost half completed.
The grant is good news, too, for East Hampton taxpayers in general. Tax-rate increases were a distinct possibility without state money. The largess from Albany came after chemicals used in firefighting foam, carpets, furniture fabric, and clothes were identified in the southern part of Wainscott.
Where things may get expensive for some property owners is running a supply line from a new water main to their houses. Between the costs of a hook-up vault and laying new pipe, perhaps by precise but expensive horizontal drilling, many homeowners could be looking at anywhere from several thousand dollars to, in one instance we know of, more than $90,000. For someone investing in a multimillion dollar house, that might seem like pocket change. For many, perhaps most, Wainscott residents that kind of money might be a difficult drink to swallow.
Given the state grant, East Hampton Town will save what would have been more than $10 million, including interest, on the bonds it did not have to issue. Considering this windfall, the town might want to offer low or interest-free loans for hookups for property owners in the affected area. Water should not be a luxury only the rich can afford.