Suffolk County Water Authority

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SCWA History

OUR FIRST DECADE (1951-1960)

PUBLIC BENEFIT CORPORATION FOR SUFFOLK WATER CUSTOMERS BECOMES A REALITY

New York State's first public benefit corporation for water service began operations on June 1, 1951, with 21,159 customers, when the SCWA acquired the South Bay Consolidated Water Company. The new not-for-profit entity, which has since become the model for numerous other water authorities, began immediately to extend public water service to more Suffolk residents each year. By 1961, the Water Authority was serving 83,313 customers directly and an additional 3,236 through sales of water to water districts, for a total of 86,549.
 
Water mains, wells, pump stations and other facilities were constructed during the SCWA's first decade in communities throughout Suffolk, including Huntington, Port Jefferson, Sag Harbor, Westhampton, Babylon and many others in between. The SCWA also built its administrative headquarters in Oakdale.

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OUR SECOND DECADE (1961-1970)

THE TREND OF DRAMATIC EXPANSION CONTINUES

During the Water Authority's second decade, we continued to add customers and build additional facilities at a steady pace. For instance, a new Control Center in Bay Shore enabled us to monitor pump stations through telemetered circuits. A new type of well designed by SCWA engineers, installed in Commack, was the largest well ever drilled on Long Island up to that time.
 
The Authority's strong financial position during this period was reflected in an improved bond rating; in 1964, we sold $17,000,000 of Water Works Revenue Bonds. The SCWA also played a major role in conducting the "Comprehensive Water Supply Study" authorized by the Suffolk County Board of Supervisors.

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OUR THIRD DECADE (1971-1980)

THE AUTHORITY CONTINUES TO GROW WITH THE HELP OF THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY

Having completed our first 20 years of service to Suffolk residents in 1971, we began our third decade with nearly 180,000 customers. Yearly pumpage figures soon exceeded the previous record of 24,277,000,000 gallons and continued to increase. During the final year of this period, the SCWA supplied 38,756,000,000 gallons of water to 238,958 customers.
 
The Water Authority also expanded its use of the latest technology to a significant degree during this period. Automatic chlorinating equipment was introduced, and new lab equipment such as an Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer enabled us to upgrade our ability to conduct in-house water analyses. Our Production Control Department was able to replace a manually-controlled system for monitoring pump stations with a sensor-based, automated computer system.

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OUR FOURTH DECADE (1981-1990)

THE SCWA MEETS THE CHALLENGE OF IMPLEMENTING MUCH MORE STRINGENT WATER QUALITY STANDARDS

As the technology became available to detect many contaminants at lower and lower levels during the Authority's fourth decade (1981-1991), water quality standards became more and more stringent. So even as we continued to expand, much of the focus of this period was in meeting the challenges posed by the new regulations.
 
We embarked on an extensive Air Stripping Research Program to develop the most economical means of removing organic contaminants at a number of wells. Additionally, we installed water treatment facilities where needed to enable us to meet the new standards. Despite the challenges involved, we maintained our record of never violating a health standard. Another challenge we met successfully during this decade was in maintaining operations at full capacity and keeping all our customers supplied with safe drinking water during the Hurricane Gloria emergency.

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OUR FIFTH DECADE (1991-2000)

THE AUTHORITY'S COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE CONTINUES WITH AN INCREASED EMPHASIS ON STEWARDSHIP

During our fifth decade, a new leadership team continued the accomplishments and successful trends that were already underway with a special focus on the theme of stewardship. It was during this decade, for instance, that we took a very active leadership role in working towards the enactment of the landmark Pine Barrens Preservation Act, which created the largest groundwater protection program in the United States. We brought lawsuits against polluters and advocated for measures to protect drinking water such as a ban on MTBE. We joined the Groundwater Guardian program and increased our educational and outreach efforts, particularly through our new website. We also began mailing a detailed water quality report to each customer.
 
It was during this period that the American Water Works Association designated the SCWA as the largest supplier in the nation based entirely upon groundwater. As we celebrated our 50th Anniversary, we were serving 352,763 residential and business customers-more than a million people.

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OUR SIXTH DECADE (2001-2010)

NEW LEADERSHIP TEAM USHERS IN EMPHASIS ON THRIFT, TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY

New SCWA leadership in 2007 put an increased emphasis on building a leaner, more efficient organization that embraced transparency, modern technology, accountability and sustainability. A series of resolutions were approved that eliminated various perks previously granted to Board members and certain employees pertaining to the use of SCWA vehicles, credit cards and the availability of various medical benefits. Additional resolutions fostered greater transparency by requiring that public documents and employment opportunities were posted prominently on the SCWA website and made performance benchmarks mandatory, such as organizational goals and objectives and regular financial reports.
 
The decade also saw SCWA pass the stern test of a massive electrical blackout that crippled much of Long Island. As the impact of the blackout rippled through Suffolk neighborhoods on August 14, 2003, warning lights in the SCWA control center in Bay Shore indicated that production wells were shutting down. But, just as quickly, wells came right back into service, as sensors detected the loss of electricity, brought gas and diesel fueled generators into service, and kept the water flowing to SCWA customers.  In this decade, SCWA also instituted a major technological advancement with the implementation of an SAP data processing system and centralized its Customer Service operations.
 
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OUR SEVENTH DECADE (2011-2020)

SCWA TESTED BY A ONCE-IN-A-GENERATION STORM, HAILED FOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

The new decade has already been a busy one for SCWA. Every facet of the organization was tested by a once-in-a-generation storm that came to be known as SuperStorm Sandy. The storm, which roared through the New York metropolitan region on October 29, 2012, coming ashore off the coast of New Jersey, caused devastating floods that wiped out entire neighborhoods, lengthy blackouts and significant damage from ferocious winds. Once again, though, SCWA customers on the mainland maintained their water service due to the careful planning of SCWA staff, which made sure that a sufficient backup power supply was at the ready via the use of generators. Even on Fire Island, which sustained massive damage, water service was fully restored within one month.
 
SCWA also was honored in numerous different ways for its exemplary business model. In 2012, SCWA was presented a Gold Award from the Association of Metropolitan Water Authorities for exceptional utility performance. The same year, SCWA won the Suffolk division of the Long Island Water Conference’s Best-Tasting Water Contest. In 2013, the Greater Long Island Clean Cities Coalition honored SCWA for its commitment to alternatively fueled vehicles, and SCWA was named by LIWC as the best tasting water on all of Long Island.

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