March 29, 2019 09:35 AM

To encourage the public to preserve Long Island’s greatest natural resource, the sole source aquifer that provides 100% of the island’s drinking water, the Suffolk County Water Authority Board today voted to create the first tiered-rate structure in SCWA history.

The creation of the new rate system—variations of which are used throughout the country and on Long Island—is designed to encourage judicious use of water resources. Though Long Island fares better in terms of available water supply than many other regions of the country, excessive water use can still impact water quality and require construction of costly infrastructure.

"Conservation rate structures have been adopted all across the country to encourage Americans to adjust their water-use habits for the long-term preservation of available water resources," said SCWA Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey W. Szabo. "Its time has come for SCWA, and we expect the new rate structure to help protect ratepayers who are careful in their water use and help provide the continued viability of our aquifer system."

The action by the SCWA Board is in accordance with an initiative undertaken by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which has established a goal for suppliers of reducing peak season water use by 15% in order to ensure the sustainability of water resources.

The new rate structure will take effect on April 1. On that date, the base drinking water charge for all customers will increase from $1.95 per thousand gallons to $2.028 per thousand gallons.

The new tiered rate will be $2.34 per thousand gallons for all consumption over 78,540 gallons per quarter. In other words, customers will only pay the tiered rate on water above and beyond 78,540 gallons per quarter, and the standard rate up until that point.

The average residential SCWA customer would have to more than double his or her annual use to reach the new tiered rate, based on historical customer usage figures. However, since the figures are tabulated quarterly, to avoid activating the tiered rate, customers should be careful to not water lawns wastefully during the spring and summer months.

Though the vast majority of SCWA customers will be subject to the 78,540 gallon limit before activating the tiered rate, a smaller number of customers who maintain meters larger than 1" will be subject to a rate structure with higher thresholds depending on meter size.

Customers are encouraged to contact SCWA’s Customer Service staff at (631) 698-9500 with any questions about the new rate system.

SCWA rates continue to be among the lowest in the country. SCWA last year was named in a Goldman Sachs study as having the lowest water rates in the country among large water suppliers when factoring in cost of living.

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.

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