March 26, 2010 10:51 AM

On Tuesday, March 23, 2010, the Members of the Board of the Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA) passed its Operating and Capital budgets for the 2011 fiscal year. The conservative spending plan that incorporates a number of cost savings initiatives balanced by investment in important infrastructure improvements was approved unanimously. The budget takes effect on June 1, 2010.

“Our top priority is to guarantee that we provide customers with safe, secure and pure water,” said Suffolk County Water Authority Chairman Michael LoGrande. “In order to ensure the water system continues to function efficiently, this budget focuses increased funding on improving that system.”

“While creating this budget, we set clear priorities and allotted funds for projects consistent with ongoing initiatives,” said Special Projects Coordinator Jeffrey Szabo. “By being conservative and focusing on priority projects, we were able to reduce the current $73 million Capital Budget by almost $700,000. With this budget, we are confident that the Authority will continue our superior service and provide customers with the safest water in the most cost-effective manner.”

The Water Authority re-appropriated funding in this fiscal year for water main replacement throughout the system. The budget calls for spending $17 million for replacement of water main and another $2 million for distribution system improvements.

This includes a project to replace a large portion of the water main along East Main Street in Huntington Village. This upgrade is part of a plan at the Water Authority that focuses on replacing water mains as they approach 70 to 80 years of age. While water mains have a lifespan of approximately 100 years, the SCWA puts a lot of effort in staying ahead of the curve. The 2011 budget makes significant investment in that program.

One area where a significant savings in the Operating Budget is being realized is from the Energy Optimization Program. The Water Authority saved $1 million in the four-month period from June-September 2009 and looks to repeat that again this summer. By reducing energy pumping during LIPA’s “Peak” period and relying on water stored in elevated tanks, the SCWA has been able to achieve considerable savings.

With a history of strong fiscal responsibility, the Suffolk County Water Authority continues to enjoy the highest category bond rating in New York State of AA+ from both Fitch, and Standard and Poor’s.

“Higher bond ratings mean lower borrowing costs. This enables us to keep our costs down while continuing to upgrade and invest in the system,” said Suffolk County Board Secretary Patrick Halpin. “The Water Authority continues to remain cognizant of the fact that fiscal responsibility is an important part of our mission to provide pure, safe drinking water at affordable rates.”

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