Hearing to be held regarding New York American Water

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Hearing to be held regarding New York American Water
The Merrick-based private company New York American Water, which provides water to the Glen Head and Sea Cliff areas, may become a public utility. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

Customers of New York American Water in the Glen Head and Sea Cliff areas will be able to voice opinions on whether the private company should turn into a public utility on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

The hearing is the latest development since Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed Rory I. Lancman, special counsel for ratepayer protection at the state’s Department of Public Service, to start a municipalization feasibility study on the company.

On the North Shore, New York American Water covers the Glen Head and Sea Cliff areas in addition to East Rockaway, Roosevelt, Bellmore and parts of Merrick on the South Shore. American Water has about 124,000 customers systemwide, including about 120,000 customers on Long Island.

“Public forums give ratepayers the chance to directly communicate their concerns and share their ideas for improving water delivery, so that Governor Cuomo, the Commission, legislators, local government officials, and the public can make an informed decision on how best to reduce water rates and provide safe and reliable drinking water in the long-term,” Lancman said. “I urge everyone concerned with the future of water delivery on Long Island to participate in the forum for their area.”

The company has been criticized by consumers in the past for surging water rates, a result of property taxes that public utilities are not required to pay.

As reported in Newsday in 2017, one public forum at a Glen Head Middle school attracted displeased consumers who voiced support for the idea of turning the company into a public utility.

Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton also criticized the company last October for ignoring a cost-effective approach to a water treatment project in Glen Head that added $1 million to its cost.

The state is currently reviewing the sale of the Merrick-based New York American Water to Liberty Utilities Co., another private utility, and the proceeding has triggered strong local interest in reviewing options for a potential public takeover of the system.  

Cuomo included a provision in his utility reform legislation introduced in November that requires the issuance of a study by April 1 on the feasibility of a public takeover of American Water and directed the Department of Public Service to begin the study immediately. 

“[The public hearings] are essential next steps in looking for solutions to the critical concerns of New York American Water customers,” Department of Public Service Chair John B. Rhodes said in a statement. “Lowering the cost of good, safe water is of prime importance to New Yorkers, and the Department needs to use all available tools to achieve that.”

The public hearing on New York American Water for northern Nassau County, including Sea Cliff, Glen Head and Mill Neck Estates, will be held Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 6 p.m.

For online access, go to www.webex.com and enter event number 179 075 0213 and event password Feb23-6pm. Registration for the event is at https://meetny-broadcast-pilot.webex.com/meetny-broadcast-pilot/e.php?AT=SI&From=GPS&MK=1790750213. For phone-only access, interested parties can call 518-549-0500 and enter access code 179 075 0213.

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