Suffolk County Water Authority

SCWA Decade History

 

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SCWA Decade History

 

 Detailed History For Our First Decade

 

1951
The Suffolk County Water Authority began operations in 1951 with the acquisition of the South Bay Consolidated Water Company. The SCWA located its administration office on North Windsor Avenue in Brightwaters. This building housed the executive, engineering, and accounting staffs.
 
1952
In the first full year of operations, the SCWA added 1,100 new services, 28 fire hydrants, and 8.2 miles of main. A twelve (12) inch transmission main, about a half mile in length, was constructed from Brightwaters to West Islip where many housing developments were in progress. Delivered a total of 1.6 billion gallons of water and spent a total of $422,412 for capital improvements.
 
1953
Experienced a prolonged drought during July, August, and September of 1952, which resulted in a substantial increase in revenue for the Authority. Acquired the Huntington, Babylon, and Sag Harbor properties of the New York Water Service Corporation on February 27, 1953, with its 38,000 customers and a meter testing shop. New wells and/or pumps were installed at Bay Shore, Oakdale, Bayport, Babylon, West Babylon, and Westhampton. A new minimum charge of $4.95 per quarter for service was established to go into effect on May 31, 1953.
 
1954
Another prolonged drought in the summer of 1953. Fifty thousand copies of a booklet entitled “How the Suffolk County Water Authority is Solving Its Water Problems” were distributed to the public.
 
1955
New services were being added at the rate of 500 a month. The volume of water delivered to the system was 3.9 billion gallons, up more than 13 percent over the previous year. SCWA established policy to provide standby equipment at all stations in the event of an emergency – such as a hurricane.
 
1956
Purchased 10 acres of land in Oakdale for a centrally-located administrative and operating headquarters. Installed a new 16-inch well, approximately 500 feet deep, at Woodchuck Hollow Road in Huntington. The yield of this well was more than double that of any other well on Long Island.
 
1957
There was a decline in home building in Suffolk which gave the Authority a breathing spell. New pump stations were under construction at Hauppauge to supply Smithtown and environs and at Jayne Boulevard for Port Jefferson territory.
 
1958
Home building down due to recession, but an unprecedented drought during summer of 1957 resulted in record-breaking peak demands and water sales. Construction began on Oakdale administrative/operating headquarters. Acquired Deer Lake Water Company, serving 325 Deer Park homes, in September 1957.
 
1959
Building in Suffolk picked up – recession was temporary. Rate increase went into effect in June of 1958, costing SCWA customers 52 cents more a month. Administrative/operating headquarters was completed.
 
1960
Operating headquarters was occupied by meter shop, storeroom, garage, laboratory, and construction maintenance personnel. Purchased the Amity Harbor Water District, the properties of the Indian Head Water Company, and the Northport Water Works Company, with a total of 9,820 customers. The Authority rate structure was advantageous for these new customers. (Suffolk County’s population increased 141.5% from 1950 to 1960).
 
   
1961
Marked the tenth anniversary of the SCWA. Serving 83,313 customers and an additional 3,299 through water districts. Capital expenditures were in excess of $5,000,000 – a new high in Authority’s history.
 
1962
Water production facilities are directed from the Authority’s new $50,000 Control Center at Bay Shore over telemetered circuits to outlying pump stations. The Authority connected 7,189 new customers to the system; the largest number since operations commenced in 1951.
 
1963
Authority’s bond rating was increased to A – giving the SCWA the same rating as the County of Suffolk. Instead of using postcards, the SCWA introduced new “envelope” billing, allowing for a bill enclosure entitled “Behind the Faucet.”
 
1964
Acquired 1,160 customers by purchasing three existing water companies and added 9,024 customers by new connections to the system. One hundred and sixty-four (164) miles of pipeline and 942 hydrants were installed that fiscal year.
 
1965
In August, 1964, the Authority sold $17,000,000 of water Works Revenue Bonds, Series I, with a final maturity of June 1, 2002. These bonds carried an A rating and were sold at a net interest cost of 3.4994%. Mr. Matthew B. Kondenar was appointed by the County Board of Supervisors to a five-year term as a member of the Authority.
 
1966
Water pumped was 15,647 gallons. The Authority was playing major role in conducting the “Comprehensive Water Supply Study” authorized by the County Board of Supervisors. A new 750,000-gallon elevated storage tank was under construction in the Bay Shore Plant. An additional 5,000 feet of space was added to the Administration Building in Oakdale for the Accounting and Data Processing Departments.
 
1967
A long, hot, and dry summer and continuing growth in Suffolk added 10.4% to SCWA’s total revenues. Allocated $850,000 (exclusive of land costs) to make improvements that directly affected the substantial increase in light industrial development.
 
1968
Service was extended to over 10,000 customers during the year. One hundred and seventy miles of main were installed and water production was up to 18 billion gallons. A new IBM 360 computer system was added to serve the Authority’s 150,000 customer accounts and perform internal accounting procedures. Added 19 new wells to system. At this time, 85% of Authority’s pumping stations were equipped with standby power.
 
1969
Authority revenues topped the $10 million mark. SCWA embarked on an Employee Service Award Program in order to recognize the valuable contributions of Authority employees. A $350,000 program was begun on College Road in Farmingville to provide water and fire protection services to Suffolk Community College and surrounding residential area.
 
1970
A well-monitoring program along the Fire Island barrier beach, which protects the mainland from the Atlantic Ocean along the entire coastline of Suffolk, was established. Authority engineers designed a new type of well that is capable of producing double the amount of water from a single well. This “double pump well” was installed at Blue Spruce Lane in Commack. At that time, it was the largest well ever drilled on Long Island. SCWA called for passage of a local law prohibiting the sale of detergents containing benzine sulfonate in Suffolk County.
 

 Detailed History For Our Third Decade

 
1971
Marked the twentieth anniversary of the SCWA. Authority passed a resolution requiring all future construction to provide either outside meter vaults or remote readers. Suffolk County Legislature acted to ban the sale of detergents within Suffolk County. SCWA took the position that the “recharge” of water was important in all sewer programs, including the Southwest Sewer District.
 
1972
New construction topped all previous records. The SCWA installed 21 wells, the most ever installed in a 12-month period. A “Variable Speed Electrical System” and automatic chlorinating equipment were introduced as part of SCWA’s ongoing improvement program. Inflation being felt everywhere.
 
1973
Record-breaking year – SCWA installed 25 new wells, acquired nine pumping stations, included in which is the Montauk Water Supply Corporation with six of the pumping stations. The first rate increase in fifteen years went into effect on April 1, 1973. The new minimum rate for 1,200 cubic feet of water was $7.05. The SCWA was rated A-1 by Moody’s Investors. We were serving an estimated population of more than 700,000 people with over 27 billion gallons of water.
 
1974
A three-million-gallon standpipe at Arnold Drive in Huntington and a one-million-gallon elevated tank at Patchogue-Yaphank Road, Yaphank was constructed. The SCWA found itself caught in the middle of an inflation spiral. Costs were reaching unprecedented highs. The Authority was considering obtaining the services of financial consultants to conduct rate study for future projections.
 
1975
Rates were increased on excess water used over the minimum an average of 24% on September 1, 1975 to compensate for a 65% increase in overall operating expenses, the cost of borrowing money and the cost of construction. This fiscal year saw the acquisition of four private water companies, installation of five more diesel generators, and the Hurtin Boulevard 334,000-gallon standpipe replaced by a new one-million-gallon elevated tank.
 
1976
Upgraded our ability to conduct in-house water analyses, partly in response to new federal legislation. Purchased a new Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer for the detection of metals and an Auto Analyzer to automate wet chemistry procedures. Sensor-based computer (Data General Nova 2/10) was purchased for the Production Control Department to monitor and control the pumping stations, consisting of 374 wells and 338 pumping units. The system replaced a manually-controlled operation with an automated-computer operation.
 
1977
A slowdown in growth was seen due to a decline in the Suffolk County home-building industry. However, the Authority’s revenues continued to be relatively high. The Water Authority placed a Burroughs Corporation B-1700 Fourth Generation Computer System on-line to service the SCWA’s 224,000 family of customers.
 
1978
Introduced Consumer Meter Reading Program in Smithtown as a test area. The program as initiated to reduce estimated bills and save on operating costs. Replaced a deteriorating 250,000-gallon concrete reservoir with a 1.42-million gallon standpipe in Montauk. Suffolk Legislature appointed Miriam T. Anzel, the first woman to serve on the SCWA Board.
 
1979
The SCWA received nearly $650,000 in federal funds through the Department of Housing and Urban Development to install 9.7 miles of main in economically-depressed areas of Suffolk, enabling 512 new customers to receive water service at a reduced cost.
 
1980
Fiscal year 1980 saw the Construction Maintenance Department undertake four major water main installation projects at a cost of $2,564,600. The installation of 9.2 miles of water main brought public water supply to 525 new customers. Two of these projects were undertaken with the cooperation of Suffolk County to bring public water to residents whose private supply was interrupted by Southwest Sewer District construction. One was done in cooperation with the Town of Babylon and one under terms of a contract signed with the Town of Brookhaven.
 
 

 Detailed History For Our Fourth Decade

 
1981
Marked the thirtieth anniversary of the SCWA. This year marked the thirtieth consecutive year that the Authority posted across-the-board gains in all aspects of its operations. SCWA concluded its customer refund program whereby residential service deposits of $10 and $12 were returned (out of SCWA revenues) to approximately 166,000 customers.
 
1982
The Authority completed the purchase of two more private water companies, bringing the total number of private and public water company acquisitions to thirty-one (31). Embarked on an extensive Air Stripping Research Program to develop the most economical means of removing organic contaminants from 18 affected wells.
 
1983
The Authority was serviced by 424 employees, 25 fewer employees than in 1973. They supplied 246,169 customers with just over 37 billion gallons of water pumped through 3,586 miles of pipeline. (Suffolk County was in the midst of its 300th anniversary. Although the Authority had only been supplying water for 32 out of 300 years, those 32 years experienced phenomenal growth, perhaps never to be equaled again).
 
1984
For the first time in SCWA history, the Authority found it necessary to install water treatment facilities at three Authority well field sites. This was due primarily to the capabilities to detect pollutants in water and more stringent water standards.
 
1985
New customer activity combined with the 71 miles of new main installation resembled the boom years of population growth during the 1970’s. Much of the new growth was attributable to cooperative efforts with other branches of government and the establishment of water supply districts in the Towns of Babylon, Brookhaven, and Islip.
 
1986
Fiscal year 1986 provided the Authority with a full-fledged test of its ability to cope with a major emergency as Hurricane Gloria, the most severe hurricane to reach Long Island in 12 years, virtually paralyzed Long Island for over five days. All of the Authority’s customers had a safe source of water throughout the entire Hurricane Gloria emergency. Operations were maintained at full capability for the duration of the emergency.
 
1987
Department of Watershed Oversight and Protection was formed to review water protection practices, devise new strategies to protect the water supply, and coordinate water protection efforts with other governmental agencies.
 
1988
Established modest land acquisition program to serve as an incentive to government at all levels to acquire key watershed parcels of land. Committed a $1 million “challenge grant” toward the acquisition of Hither Woods, a 777-acre watershed located in East Hampton. Approved the purchase of a computer-based Geographic Information System (GIS). Water Authority successfully worked to remove obstacles in the way of bringing public water to two areas of Rocky Point where private wells had been declared unstable.
 
1989
Due to new and stringent water standards promulgated by the New York State Department of Health, the SCWA began implementing a program utilizing carbon filtration systems. Installed thirty-one (31) units in 1989. The Authority designed housing for these filters to prevent freezing and maintain attractive appearance of our properties. Comparative analysis of SCWA rates with other major investor-owned utilities placed Authority rates at about 58% below the average cost of water. Began conducting residential retrofit pilot program for 1,100 homes in the Southwest Sewer District area with water conservation grant money from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
 
1990
In order to improve customer service, a new bill was designed to provide more information in an easier-to-understand format. The Authority earned national recognition for several of its radio messages that were part of a consumer education campaign. An unusually severe cold snap in December 1989 had Authority workers handling a record number of main breaks and service calls.
 
 

 Detailed History For Our Fifth Decade

 
1991
Fortieth anniversary of the SCWA. Completed water conservation retrofit program for Montauk peninsula, supplying 2,600 residential customers and 44 hotel/motel and condominium owners with water-saving devices to avert salting of wells. Hurricane Bob hit eastern end of Long island particularly hard, but SCWA maintained water service for SCWA customers.
 
1992
Acquired Bridgehampton Water Company. Two active carbon absorption systems installed. Entire distribution system being computerized utilizing the Stoner Model. SCWA Laboratory added state-of-the-art ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometer) which tests for numerous metals simultaneously. SCWA initiated Water Week Slogan Contest for students in grades 3-12 and co-sponsored an essay contest with the Suffolk County Health Department entitled ‘The Day the Water Stopped’ for students in grades 4-6.
 
1993
SCWA purchased Shorewood Water Company, adding 5,300 new customers in the Shoreham, Lake Panamoka, Wading River and Ridge areas. Western Regional Office in Hauppauge opened, which brought into one centralized office the Babylon, Bay Shore, Huntington and Smithtown district offices. SCWA’s new laboratory also housed here. SCWA played major role in passage of the Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act.
 
1994
With opening of Coram Regional Customer Center, Customer Service Division now composed of three main regional locations: Hauppauge, Coram and Westhampton Beach, with one satellite office in East Hampton. Implemented program for customers to call in their meter readings by using Interactive Voice Response System. Extreme summer weather necessitated a record pumping of 9.3 billion gallons of water. 15,000 feet of transite main replaced as part of a long-term replacement program.
 
1995
Completion of new 26,000-square-foot water testing laboratory. Customer Service established as separate division of SCWA. An automated Call-Out system was implemented, making it possible for SCWA to communicate quickly with customers. Central Pine Barrens Comprehensive Land Use Plan becomes law. SCWA supplied more than four million gallons of water to fight Pine Barrens Wildfires.
  
1996
475 homes connected in Shirley as part of a water main installation project. Acquired Kismet and Lonelyville water systems on Fire Island. To manage operating schedules of the ten wells on the Montauk peninsula during the summer, a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) was put in service. First SCWA iron removal plant went on-line at Harvest Lane Pump Station in West Islip. SCWA laboratory began testing Erie County’s water.
 
1997
Acquired Point O’Woods, Summer Club and Cherry Grove water systems on Fire Island and installed new mains for entire Davis Park system. SCWA also purchased the Village of Greenport water facilities at a cost of $3.5 million, acquiring 2,100 new customers. Agreement was reached with the Town of Southampton for SCWA to manage and operate Riverside Water District, thereby providing service to its 550 customers. Payment of customer bills on the internet began. SCWA awarded AAA and Aaa bond ratings by Standard and Poor’s Rating Services and Moody’s Investor Services, respectively.
 
1998
Laboratory acquired a GC Mass Spectrometer capable of simultaneously scanning 200 herbicides and pesticides. SCWA web site debuts. Acquired The Pines water system on Fire Island.  Approval received to construct a pipeline from Napeague to Montauk to provide 20,000,000 gallons of supplementary water. SCWA extended mains into Great Hog Neck peninsula and East Marion on the North Fork. National Groundwater Foundation certified SCWA as a Groundwater Guardian Community.
 
1999
Water system made Y2K compliant. 120 miles of water main and 3,700 new customers added. Monthly pumpage record of 11.3 billion gallons achieved due to exceedingly hot July. Water Alert declared by SCWA due to rolling brownouts. Emergency generators used so pump stations could come off public power system during height of heat crisis. New SCADA system (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) implemented at Bay Shore Control Center.
 
2000
For the first time, SCWA entered into a long-term agreement to manage a water district, the Brentwood Water District. SCWA worked with local and state elected officials in supporting a bill to eliminate MTBE from gasoline sold in New York State. The bill was signed into law.
 
 

 Detailed History For Our Sixth Decade

 
2001
Fiftieth anniversary of the SCWA. SCWA’s system security and asset protection moved to highest level of importance due to the terrorist attacks of September 11. SCADA enabled SCWA to provide level of security called for by law enforcement. 45% increase in water production over ten years before. SCWA launched major ad campaign to promote odd/even lawn watering to conserve water during a drought. Number of customers served reached one million. SCWA began leasing antennae space at its numerous tank sites generating approximately $3 million in revenues.
 
2002
Completed GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement) for North Fork to provide framework for supply public water to this area. In keeping with its commitment to environmental stewardship, SCWA began a Community Arboretum Initiative, beautifying SCWA wellfields with large specimen trees. To reduce nighttime glare for surrounding communities, SCWA retrofitted outdoor lighting systems at East Hampton and Westhampton facilities.
 
2003
Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s Investment Services reaffirmed SCWA’s financial ratings of AA- and Aa, respectively, the highest bond rating of any revenue-based authority in state. SCWA thrived through the largest electricity blackout in US history as 90 wells almost instantaneously go back into service as sensors detect the loss of electricity and bring the diesel and gas powered generators on line to keep water flowing to SCWA customers. Forty employees accepted early retirement incentive, resulting in operational savings over the next two years.
 
2004
SCWA refinanced $66.395 million during record low interest rates to save $7.5 million for customers. Third straight year without a rate increase. Audit committee created by Board to increase Board financial oversight. Laboratory receives perfect score in NYS Proficiency test.
 
2005
SAP implemented in Customer Service, consolidating information previously contained within multiple databases. Result is seamless access to customer account information, ability to answer customer questions much more quickly, and significant workflow efficiencies. Partnered with IBM Business Consulting Services to review current business practices and information systems to develop an Information Technology Business Plan for the next ten years.
 
2006
SCWA awarded Exemplary Source Water Protection Award from the American Water Works Association. Bond ratings upgraded to AA+ and AA this year, leading to lower borrowing costs.
 
2007
Resolutions 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 be posted prominently on the SCWA website. Performance benchmarks, such as organizational goals and objectives and regular financial reports, became mandatory.
 
2008
Transportation Department launched extensive effort to upgrade vehicle fleet and replace older, inefficient vehicles with more efficient alternatives, saving funds and protecting the environment. Automated Meter Reading launched, allowing meter readers to collect reads instantaneously simply by driving by homes. In continuing commitment to environmental stewardship and financial savings, SCWA moves forward with plans to install solar panels on the roof of the engineering building in Great River.
 
2009
Educational outreach program, which teaches primarily 4th through 8th grade students how the water cycle works, is now serving 75 schools and more than 10,000 schoolchildren per year.
Direct debit program introduced with goal of greatly reducing amount of paper used in billing.
New equipment purchased for laboratory to detect emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products.
 
2010
Rates frozen for fourth straight year. In response to poor economy, SCWA cut capital budget by $15 million and operating budget by $1 million. Eliminated 25 vehicles and consolidated office space in further actions to increase efficiency. E-billing introduced to further paper reduction efforts. Land and property holdings inventory conducted to identify surplus land and buildings that can be sold to hold down future rate increases. SCWA assumed operation of East Farmingdale water system. James F. Gaughran named Chairman of SCWA Board.
 
 

 Detailed History For Our Seventh Decade

 
2011
Sixtieth anniversary of SCWA.Pilot program held to identify locations in which homes and businesses have water main on their street but are still using private wells. Five compressed natural gas vehicles added to fleet to reduce emissions and reliance on foreign oil. Eight additional trucks were converted from diesel fuel to CNG. Water supply remains uninterrupted during Hurricane Irene.
 
2012
SCWA honored with Gold Award by the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies in recognition of SCWA’s state-of-the-art laboratory, high bond ratings, aquifer protection measures and efficient management. Named best tasting water in Suffolk at an event sponsored by the Long Island Water Conference. Despite power knocked out to 75% of pump stations during the devastating Superstorm Sandy, SCWA keeps water flowing to nearly all of its customers, the only exception being the devastated and evacuated Fire Island. Free well testing offered to Suffolk residents on private wells impacted by storm. First surplus property sold, a Lake Ronkonkoma lot that brought in $241,000. SCWA saved more than $13 million by issuing $83.6 million of Water System Revenue bonds. SCWA assumed operation of Stony Brook water system.
 
2013
SCWA named best tasting water on Long Island at an event sponsored by Long Island Water Conference. SCWA 2025, a strategic planning initiative involving all major departments, is launched to assess how to best serve our current customers, seek new ones, protect our assets, maintain the highest quality water standards and improve efficiency via technological advances.
SCWA co-hosts first Long Island Groundwater Symposium to heighten awareness about the need to protect our aquifers. All-time water pumpage record hit as SCWA pumps 533,000 gallons in a minute on July 19.
 
2014
Education Center launched at Hauppauge location. $3 million in surplus land sales used to cut anticipated increase in the average customer’s water rate from $12 to $4. Long Island Commission for Aquifer Protection, a bi-county initiative launched by SCWA, holds its first meeting. SCWA named best tasting water in Suffolk for third straight year at an event sponsored by the Long Island Water Conference.