How much do you pay for water? For residents of Long Island, that question will likely prompt different responses based on their water district. A recent study conducted by the Citizens Campaign for the Environment found that Long Island has 48 local water districts and that the amount paid varies by water district provider. Pricing can be flat rates or tiered levels. Some providers’ bills include service fees; others have capital costs added to tax bills. The group also found that while most districts calculate rates in gallons of water, some districts use cubic feet of water which is confusing to most customers.
These practices cause a wide variance in price for residents, some paying nearly 500 percent more than neighbors a few miles away. According to the study, “a Long Island family of four, using about 10,000 gallons of water per month, pays an average of $414 annually for water;” however, Nassau county pays $499 each month on average while Suffolk county pays only $347. The group contends that a significant reason for the difference is that Suffolk County has one water authority and Nassau has multiple water districts.
The report made the following recommendations:
- Consolidate water districts that do not produce their own water and service less than 10,000 people.
- Establish a uniform rate structure with transparency, specifying rates, tiers, additional fees or taxes.
- Implement more incentives for conservation, charging higher rates for sprinkler systems to make people accountable for this water usage.
- Water suppliers need to educate the public on tiered water rate systems. Using tools such as Smart Meters will help consumers track their water use.
- Never allow the privatization of water.
The Citizens Campaign for the Environment believes it is the public’s right to know what they actually pay for water. Knowledge encourages behaviors that promote conservation and protection, safeguarding the water supply for the future.
 Brodsky, Robert. “Cost to Take a Shower Varies across Water Districts.” Newsday, Newsday, 13 Aug. 2019, www.newsday.com/long-island/environment/rates-fees-water-districts-1.34948600.
 “What Does Your Water Cost? a Comprehensive Analysis of Residential Water Costs on Long Island.” Citizens Campaign for the Environment, 2019, www.citizenscampaign.org/.
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