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Addressing Acquisition Concerns

American Water president seeks to assure public

For several months, the possible acquisition of Aqua NY by New York American Water has raised concerns about the future of the water supply for hundreds of thousands of local residents.

According to activists, such concerns have to do with costs; as significant, is the possible spread of groundwater contamination plume from the Northrop Grumman/Navy site in Bethpage to public supply wells.

Last month, the acquisition was completed. Recently, William Varley, president of New York American Water, wrote an open letter to South Shore residents, in an attempt to address those same concerns.

“For more than 125 years, our top priority has been to provide our customers with high-quality, reliable water service at a reasonable price, and we are eager to deliver that same level of service to our new customers in your community,” Varley wrote.  “To that end, we are committed to investing in the water treatment and delivery systems that serve your community; to meeting or surpassing water quality standards; and to providing you with around-the-clock customer service.”

Varley also assured water customers that water rates are not changing with the acquisition.  

“We have adopted the current rates that were approved by the Public Service Commission and these rates will remain in place through March 31, 2015,” he said.

Varley listed several outlets to where customers could direct their calls. The number for the Customer Service Center is 877-426-6999. The website is www.newyorkamwater.com and the Facebook address is www.amwater.com/face book/li. “We provide regular updates on flushing, facility upgrades, emergency repairs when they do occur, as well as company news and events,” Varley concluded.

Contamination Concerns

The Massapequa Water District has long been concerned about such contamination. Since February, they have circulated a petition among local residents asking that Governor Andrew Cuomo intercede with the actions of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and cause the immediate halt of the spread of any Navy/Grumman groundwater contamination plume to public water supply wells.  Water district claim that 5,400 signatures were obtained when they presented the petition to state officials in Albany last month.

Along the South Shore, the North and Central Merrick Civic Association has been at the forefront of the possible sale of Aqua NY. In April, Ms. Borecky said that her civic association had hoped for Southeastern Nassau Water Authority to acquire Aqua NY. Indeed, earlier this year, both the Town of Hempstead and the Town of Oyster Bay combined to pay $75,000 for a future feasibility study of such an acquisition.

Ms. Borecky said concerns are mostly about pricing. Private companies, she added, don’t have to reveal all of their information. Ms. Borecky also said that private companies are not required to remove contamination or stop the plumes, even though they are required to put in a filter system.

With a public takeover, Ms. Borecky added, residents might have far more influence on how the water supply is being administered and treated.

But the sale, as long rumored, has now been completed and local residents can address their concerns to American Water.