The Water Authority of Southeastern Nassau County (SENWA) held its third meeting on Wednesday at Merrick Road Park to inform the public of their recent progress and plans.
That hundreds-of-pages blue binder sat on a table staring at the audience’s faces yet again, but this time the board managed to get through most of it.
“This binder is the one that was distributed from the past board … and I’d like to say that I understood it. I have a better feeling about what went on, but we don’t want to nail down a price based on this because it is somewhat 20-years-old,” said Richard Ronan, chairman of the board.
Generally, as trustees John Molloy and Walter D’Amato said, the past documents include a lot of numbers and figures that revolved around the operations of the New York Water Service at the time. The board plans to look even further into these documents and to refer to them on a very redundant basis.
“The one thing that seems kind of evident in most of the documents is that at the time the actual evaluation purchase price was never nailed down to an exact figure,” said John Reinhardt, secretary. “One of the first things that we would need to look towards getting the money for would be a real plant and service evaluation of the company.”
The most key part of this whole process, Reinhardt said, is finding out what the acquisition is going to be to purchase Aqua New York. The overall number at the time that Aqua previously made the acquisition was about $53 million.
Nassau County Legis. Dave Denenberg, D-Merrick, briefly attended the meeting and gave the unfortunate news that there hasn’t been any ways to come up with the use of community development block grant money for the SENWA studies yet, mainly because the majority of areas (Massapequa, Merrick, Bellmore, Wantagh, Farmingdale and Levittown) don’t qualify for the regions where most of that community development block grant money goes.
“I’m sorry to hear that the community development funds didn’t materialize,” Ronan said. “Now that the budget is settled in Albany, we should possibly write to everybody again because this is so important, but it requires some professional service,” he suggested.
To that degree, North and Central Merrick Community Association president, Claudia Borecky, made up official complaint forms to send to Aqua New York, which she handed out and can be found and printed out on her website, northmerrickcivic.org/SENWA.
“Complaints show that the value of Aqua is less,” Borecky said. “It’s good to get [the complaints in] and be honest about it.”
A cluster of unrelated North Bellmore residents had complaints about low water pressure and high iron content in the water.
“If you have a heating system with a hot water coil, they clog,” one resident who just converted to a gas system said. “But it’s not just North Bellmore, it’s the whole area.”
Phillip Franco of Seaford said, “This is what happens with privatization. They are all for profit and we are getting less water quality, iron in the water, chlorine and low water pressure — I am experiencing this too — all at an exorbitant price.”
A woman from Merrick followed up Franco’s comment with, “Why are we the second highest (the North Shore being the first) water community on Long Island? It’s very difficult to come up with the money for these ridiculous bills. I feel like I’m being penalized for using water that I need.”
Ronan suggested he would like to begin a speaker’s bureau where members from the SENWA board can update others, such as a civic group or garden club, about what is happening and spread the word on the Aqua takeover.
“The public has to understand what we’re doing because you guys are a part of this and part of it is you’re going to have to become sort-of water engineers also,” Ronan said. “There is going to be a public referendum and Aqua may actively fight that so what we need is your help to do the right thing to make it happen.”