Hempstead Town Board Okays $50,000 for Water Authority Takeover Study

The Hempstead Town Board today voted unanimously to commit $50,000 to the Water Authority of Southeastern Nassau County to finance research for a feasibility study on the potential takeover of the private water company, Aqua New York, Inc. The funds, combined with an additional $25,000 set aside by the Town of Oyster Bay, will assist the Water Authority in determining whether water rate cost savings can be realized under a public takeover.

What’s more, if the Water Authority were to vote for a public takeover of Aqua New York, Inc., the $75,000 provided to the Water Authority for its feasibility studies would be paid back – in full – to Hempstead and Oyster Bay Towns.

“Hempstead and Oyster Bay townships wish to take another look at whether real cost savings can be realized under a public takeover of Aqua New York, Inc., whose customers pay water rates that far exceed those served by public water,” stated Murray. “I and my colleagues on the Town Board are proud to commit these funds to the Water Authority. And, if the Water Authority approves a public takeover, Hempstead Town will get all of this money back.”

The $75,000 granted to the Water Authority will help the group study the total valuation of Aqua’s assets and estimate the total acquisition cost. Then, the five-member board of the Water Authority – appointed by Hempstead and Oyster Bay townships – will determine whether a public water system would result in lower water rates for residents currently served by Aqua.

“Our residents deserve fair and affordable water rates,” said Councilwoman Angie Cullin. Added Councilman Gary Hudes, “The Hempstead Town Board is committed to assisting the Water Authority in its efforts to study a public takeover of Aqua New York, Inc.”

Hempstead and Oyster Bay Towns revived the Water Authority of Southeastern Nassau County in late 2010; the Water Authority had not studied the feasibility of a public takeover of Aqua since 1997, when the Water Authority’s board voted against it. But with Aqua water rates increasing by 12 percent over a three-year period, Supervisor Murray and Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto decided to reactive the Water Authority and take a fresh look at the issue. Thus far, the Water Authority has hosted community meetings, reviewed data and finding of the 1997 board, sought legal counsel and set up a website.

“The Water Authority is doing an excellent job of studying the feasibility of a public takeover of Aqua and listening to residents’ concerns,” concluded Murray. “The $75,000 set aside by Hempstead and Oyster Bay townships will help the Water Authority conduct further study and ultimately determine whether a public takeover of Aqua is both feasible and prudent for our residents.”