Despite a one-year postponement of New York American Water’s $5 million Glen Head Water Tower Project, residents remain worried about several issues related to their water service.
George Pombar, president of the Glen Head-Glenwood Civic Association, said that New York American Water should focus on renovating the water tower instead of replacing it. “The tower is corroded, and we’re concerned about the water,” Pombar said. “The further you delay it, the worse it gets.”
New York American Water initially proposed demolishing the tower, which was built in 1935, and replacing it with a new, modern structure. Pombar said that the company’s president, Carmen Tierno, told the civic association that the cost of the new tower would be reduced to $3.5 million. Pombar said he would have liked to see more transparency from the company much sooner. “We’re not unreasonable people,” he said. “We’re just asking if they could talk to us to see what we can do.”
The civic association has been trying to help solve the water tower problem for several months, Pombar said, but it’s not the only water-related issue residents have. Another concern is their quarterly bills, which range from to $200 to $300. And to make matters worse, if the company doesn’t make enough money to cover its expenses, it adds a surcharge to residents’ bills.
“This is America,” Pombar said. “If you buy a company and you have an expense of some kind, you eat it. That’s part of an operating expense.” New York American Water purchased Aqua Water in 2011.
Jillian O’Day, of Glen Head, said that one of her quarterly bills in 2013 was $910. While the bills for her four-bedroom cape have since gone down to $300 per quarter, she said, the water rates are still “outrageous” because of the surcharges. “It’s so frustrating, I don’t even know where to go with it anymore,” O’Day said. “I don’t understand how even though it’s a utility, we’re not allowed to choose what company we go to.”
She added that thousands of residents have written letters to the Nassau County Department of Public Works, and have also reached out to elected leaders in the hope of resolving their problems.
New York American Water also serves Glen Head’s neighboring village, Sea Cliff. Gail Driscoll, the company’s external affairs manager, said that it plans to invest millions of dollars between April 1, 2018, and March 31, 2021, on capital projects, which include improving the water wells. She added that the company proposed a rate increase to fund “much-needed” infrastructure improvements to the water supply and distribution system in order to “continue delivering a high-quality service to its customers.”
“New York American Water remains committed to doing everything we can to minimize the impact on customers’ bills while continually investing in much-needed infrastructure projects,” Driscoll said. “This includes consistently challenging our tax assessments to minimize costs passed on to our customers.”
Pombar recently announced that the civic association would form a small group with New York American Water called the Glen Head Water Tower Committee, with plans to work closely with the community. He said he believed they should have done this years ago. Pombar said that it was Tierno that made the suggestion to form the committee as part of a “collaborative effort.”
“It’s much easier when we can show respect for each other,” he said. “Obviously, we can still choose to disagree, but at least we’re meeting to see where we’re going with this. That’s all we suggested.”
Pombar said that the civic association would hold a community meeting at North Shore High School on May 2, at 7:30 p.m., and that he expected to see hundreds of residents there. “People are not as informed as the civic association,” he said. “We want to use this as an opportunity to publicly explain all the details to our community.”