At around 6 a.m. on June 7, as residents of Sea Cliff and Glen Head prepared for the day, they discovered low water pressure in their sinks and showerheads. In some homes, discolored, sediment-ridden water flowed through the faucets.
The cause of the low pressure, and what resident George Pombar called “sludge water,” was a pump failure at the well on Roslyn Drive in Glen Head, which pumps water to the tank on Dumond Place. What caused the outage, however, remains unclear.
“In addition to the pump failing, the failsafe failed and the alarm system to notify the company also failed,” said Village Administrator Bruce Kennedy. “As people were using water in their homes, it drained the tower, and the net result was loss of pressure — or water entirely.”
For an hour, there were frantic calls from residents to New York American Water’s customer service representatives, who gave no definitive answer as to what had caused the systemwide failure.
At 6:56 a.m., Kennedy in-formed company President Carmen Tierno that the district was out of water. “His own people didn’t notify him,” Kennedy said. “He was completely and totally surprised.”
According to an official statement from NYAW, administrators opened an emergency interconnect with the Glenwood Landing and Jericho water districts to provide water to the community while the company investigated the source of the system’s communication issue. Additionally, officials performed maintenance by flushing the distribution system, which caused some residents in the area to see discolored water. System pressure was fully restored by 10:15 a.m.
“At no time was the water system compromised, however some customers may have experienced low water pressure,” the statement read.
Glen Head resident Agatha Nadel has been protesting NYAW’s operations since last May, when the Public Service Commission approved a four-year phase-in of rate increases for the company, hiking bills for residential customers up to $200 in the first year.
“This is just another layer of this company’s lack of attentiveness to its customers, and another reason to get rid of them,” Nadel said of the June 7 incident. “I hope everyone understands now that this is not a joke.”
The day before the system failure, the State Senate passed a bill put forward by Sen. Carl Marcellino, which requires a feasibility study of a potential takeover of NYAW in the Sea Cliff district. The bill passed the Senate 57-4.
The idea of a feasibility study was first raised in February, when local civic leaders and elected officials attended a Jericho Water board meeting to plead the case for consolidation with the Jericho district. If a companion bill passes in the Assembly and is signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, it would allocate funding for a study to determine whether Jericho Water has the means to accommodate NYAW ratepayers in the Sea Cliff district.
The Assembly was expected to vote on the legislation by June 20. Assemblyman Michael Montesano, a Republican from Glen Head, is a cosponsor of the companion bill, which is currently in committee. “I’m optimistic it will pass,” he said. “It’s necessary.”
“It’s an important first step,” Nadel said of the legislation, “but nothing else can follow until this happens. There’s no excuse to not get this done.”