Ensuring that the water the Suffolk County Water Authority supplies its customers is safe to drink is our top priority. If you’ve been following the news about the drinking water situation in Flint, Michigan, please be assured of the following:
• The issues in Flint were caused by switching from one water source (Lake Huron through City of Detroit Water) to another (the Flint River). The Suffolk County Water Authority has a single water source, Long Island’s sole source aquifer, and supplies are plentiful and readily available. As such, we have no need to even consider moving to another water source and don’t anticipate ever having to do so in the future.
• A primary contributor to the situation in Flint is that the Flint River is far more corrosive than Lake Huron. That corrosive water supply, operated without proper corrosion control, caused lead present in some parts of the city’s water distribution system, service lines and the home plumbing of customers to leach into drinking water. SCWA maintains optimal corrosion control by ensuring that all water delivered to customers is treated with lime to neutralize the pH level of water drawn from Long Island’s aquifer.
• Additionally, SCWA conducts rigorous tests every year at the household taps of designated customers throughout our distribution system to ensure that lead has not entered the water supply. Our protocol states emphatically that those taking water samples must ensure that there has been no water flow through the household for at least six hours before a sample is taken, so that if any lead had accumulated, it would not be flushed out by turning on the tap. Testers are required to sign a document testifying that they followed this requirement. Last year, such testing was conducted at dozens of residences and in no case was action required to address an elevated level of lead.
• SCWA also adds trace amounts of chlorine to the water supply to prevent the growth of bacteria, such as total coliform and the pathogen that causes Legionnaires disease, in the distribution system. After switching to the Flint River for its water supply, the city of Flint issued public notifications for the presence of total coliform and numerous cases of Legionnaires disease have been linked to the city’s drinking water.
• Though trace amounts of contaminants have entered our aquifer system over the years due to land use and other practices, our state-of-the-art laboratory rigorously and constantly tests our water supply to detect such contaminants. When contaminants are detected, we ensure they are removed from the water supply before it is delivered to our customers. And our internal water quality standards are stricter than state and federal regulations.
The Suffolk County Water Authority is an independent public-benefit corporation operating under the authority of the Public Authorities Law of the State of New York. Serving approximately 1.2 million Suffolk County residents, the Authority operates without taxing power on a not-for-profit basis.