May 16, 2024 02:05 PM
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Water use throughout Long Island skyrockets during the spring and summer, and the biggest reason for this increase is lawn irrigation. In fact, roughly two-thirds of all water pumped during the warmer months of the year is used exclusively for irrigation, making it crucial that residents engage in water conservation practices while watering their lawns. The Suffolk County Water Authority, joined by County Executive Ed Romaine, Presiding Office Kevin McCaffrey and Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer, recently held a press conference at which officials implored residents to take steps now to save water during the dry summer months. They offered a number of tips to help customers save water, and they only require small changes to their everyday routines.


“Now is the time of year in which Suffolk County residents must begin to be especially mindful of their water use,” said SCWA Chairman Charles Lefkowitz. “Luckily, there are simple steps residents can take to make a substantial difference in their water use. We hope our customers take these messages to heart and work with us to conserve water this spring and summer.”


High water demand can have several negative impacts. When demand outstrips the capacity to pump water from the aquifer, customers may experience low water pressure. This is especially true in the early morning hours when demand is at its highest from lawn irrigation. In addition to the low-pressure customers may experience in their homes, this can also impact fire protection when firefighters respond to an emergency. SCWA says it takes extra steps to ensure there is adequate flow for this purpose but the safest thing to do is to ensure there is enough pressure in the system by lowering demand. In response to high water use, SCWA has built millions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure to keep up, which translates to higher rates for customers.


Long Island’s aquifer is the sole source of all drinking water in Suffolk County. Protecting and preserving that resource for future generations is critically important. Over pumping can have particularly detrimental effects on the East End of Long Island where the aquifer is thinnest. Extracting too much fresh water can lead to salt-water intrusion, as sea water starts to penetrate the aquifer. This degrades water quality and, in extreme cases, can lead to public supply wells becoming unusable. As the climate changes and sea levels rise, SCWA says this will become an even larger concern.


One of the easiest ways to conserve a tremendous amount of water while irrigating is adhering to the SCWA’s odd/even lawn watering schedule. SCWA recommends that homes with an odd-numbered address water their lawns on odd-numbered calendar days, while homes with even-numbered addresses water on even-numbered calendar days. Your lawn only needs one inch of water per week in order to remain healthy, so watering your lawn every other day is more than enough to keep it lush and green. Residents can save even more by taking two minutes of watering time off of each irrigation zone of their property, which conserves water and helps maintain a healthy lawn.


“Although these water-saving methods might seem small, they are incredibly beneficial to our water source when done by the majority of our customers,” said SCWA CEO Jeffrey Szabo. “These efforts also take a tremendous strain off of our infrastructure, helping it to work more efficiently throughout the season. We look forward to working with our customers to help them save water however we can.”


Through the SCWA’s WaterWise program, customers can use up to $150 in credits to purchase a variety of smart water devices. Among these options are smart irrigation controllers, which are the best tools to help you save water while irrigating your lawns. They use WiFi to connect to local weather forecasts and determine exactly how much water your lawn needs in order to stay healthy without the risk of overwatering.


WaterWise checkups are also available for all SCWA customers upon request. During these free consultations, SCWA professionals speak with residents to identify specific ways in which they can save water throughout their homes based on their unique water use habits. SCWA says that residents who participate in this program see a sizeable decrease in their future water use compared to customers who do not take advantage of the program.


Additionally, residents can use plants native to Long Island to beautify their homes while conserving water. Since they are perfectly adapted to Long Island’s environment, their roots are able to grow deeper into the soil, allowing them to hold moisture longer than non-native plants. This, in turn, means they require less water to maintain. SCWA says customers can find more information by visiting


About SCWA:


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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