Parente calls water pricing study ‘flawed’

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The Citizens Campaign for the Environment study found that East Williston residents pay approximately $814.80 annually for water. (Photo by Jed Hendrixson)

A recent study cited by CBS News showed that East Williston is paying some of the highest water rates on Long Island,  but Mayor Bonnie Parente said the “flawed” analysis ignores the differences in taxes that other municipalities with water districts may also be paying.

“It was flawed,” Parente said. “It did not compare apples to apples.”

A study conducted by the Citizens Campaign for the Environment called “What Does Your Water Cost?” places East Williston’s water district at fourth place in the top 10 most expensive water districts on Long Island. The study hit the public eye after an Aug. 13 CBS story cited its findings.

When it comes to water bills and understanding why exactly they cost what they do, Adrienne Esposito, executive director for the organization, said: “There should be more clarity.”

Esposito said East Williston is one of the “waterless water districts” on Long Island since the village does not have its own water supply.  Instead, the village must purchase its water from the Williston Park Water District.

The organization’s study said while Long Island is a sole source aquifer, meaning 100 percent of water comes from underground aquifers, there are about 48 waters districts on Long Island. There are 37 in Nassau County and 11 in Suffolk County.

The study found that in East Williston, the approximate total annual cost of water is $814.80, averaging about $6.79 per 1,000 gallons up to 100,000 gallons of usage and then at $7.04 per 1,000 gallons over 100,000 gallons of usage.

By comparison the study said that in Williston Park’s water district, East Williston’s water provider, the approximate total annual cost of water is $616.80, averaging about $5.14 per 1,000 gallons and then at $5.36 per 1,000 gallons over 50,000 gallons of usage.

“They become the broker,” Esposito said about the Williston Park district. “People in Williston get the same water.”

Parente said the study did not take into account the differences other municipalities pay in taxes. The mayor said municipalities that have their own water districts also have other costs built into their taxes as a result of having to maintain the operation of their water district. Parente said CBS News and the study itself “did not do the work” by trying to break down and study these differences.

In fact, she said municipalities like East Williston should be praised for purchasing all of their water from another district, saying, “How many water towers do we want around Long Island?”

The study said East Williston has a population of 2,500. Esposito said that municipalities like East Williston, which is part of the study’s “districts serving less than 10,000 population” list, should merge with Williston Park’s water district and become what Esposito called “The Williston Water District.”

Parente said that consolidating Williston Park and East Williston into one water district had been considered by the villages years ago, but said  “that was discussed and dismissed.” She had no further comment on consolidation.

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