Year in Review

North Shore communities vs. New York American Water


Annual water bills for typical residential customers in Sea Cliff jumped to $821.82 from $587.23, an increase of more than $200 a year, after the New York State Public Service Commission announced in May that it had lowered New York American Water Company’s requested rate increase. It granted an increase of $3.63 million — less than half of the $8.7 million requested by the company.

NYAW service territory, which covers 12 water districts that serve roughly 120,000 customers on Long Island, includes Sea Cliff and Glen Head.

The increase was mostly due to higher local property taxes assessed to the utility — roughly $4.2 million in property taxes — that were then passed directly on to 4,500 houses NYAW serves in Sea Cliff and Glen Head.

The Glen Head-Glenwood Civic Association, led by George Pombar, its president, had held several meetings with NYAW President Carmen Tierno to voice concerns over the increased water rates and the corroded Glen Head water tower.

In August, the civics came up with a proposed solution to hold a referendum on whether to claim eminent domain. If voters approved such a move, the hamlet would buy NYAW out of its services by issuing a bond, which would be paid off in 25 to 30 years. Water would then be outsourced from another municipality for a fee.

After hearing the concerns of residents, State Sen. Carl Marcellino and Assemblymen Michael Montesano and Edward Ra teamed up to propose two bills on Sept. 9 to help affected New York American Water customers.

The first, would allow residents served by a private water utility to take a credit against their state tax bill equal to the amount of their annual water bill.

The second would require the state comptroller to conduct audits of private water companies before and after rate changes were approved by the Public Service Commission.

Both bills are currently pending review in the State Assembly and Senate.

The Legislature will convene on Jan. 3.