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Jul 21, 2010 11:35 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Suffolk County consumes record amount of water on Friday, Southampton estates lead the way

Jul 21, 2010 11:35 AM

Despite several heavy downpours over the last week, the Suffolk County Water Authority announced on Monday that it is continuing its countywide “Stage 1 Water Alert,” citing a lack of substantial rainfall combined with soaring rates of water consumption on the East End.

In fact, countywide water consumption surged to record levels last Friday, and large Southampton estates led the way in earning the dubious distinction of being the biggest residential water consumers for nonessential uses, according to authority officials.

The water authority reported record pumping—at a rate of 500,000 gallons per minute—on Friday, topping the previous record of 480,000 gallons per minute set earlier this decade. The lower figure had been matched in recent weeks, but Friday marked the first time it was exceeded, according to Water Authority Chief Executive Officer Jeff Szabo.

“If things continue at this rate, this could be the historic year for consumption,” Mr. Szabo warned. Last May, 5.5 billion gallons of water were used; this May, that figure surged to 10 billion gallons, he added.

Meanwhile, less than 2 inches of rain has fallen in the Southampton area so far this month, below the average of more than 3 inches, according to weather.com.

The water authority’s alert, first issued July 7, calls for voluntary reduction of water use so that enough is available for emergency uses, such fighting fires. If the situation becomes dire, the authority, which serves approximately 1.2 million people, could issue a “Stage 2 Alert,” which would allow the company to shut off water services.

In addition to limiting nonessential water use, the authority is urging East Enders to use their irrigation systems at off-peak hours, such as from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Water usage spikes between midnight and about 7 a.m., when automatic lawn watering systems are typically slated to turn on, according to Mr. Szabo.

The area of Southampton Village from the Long Island Rail Road station south to the ocean is a particular area of concern, Mr. Szabo noted. Consumption can be particularly heavy among the owners of large summer homes, some of whom use enormous amounts of water for lawn watering and car washing, among other nonessential uses, he said. The average annual water bill for a water authority customer is $306, whereas the palatial East End estates often accumulate bills in the thousands of dollars each quarter, he added.

“The biggest 100 users, if you remove commercial buildings, are out on the East End, and out there the biggest are in Southampton,” said Mr. Szabo.

There are currently 560 active wells in the general area, and two-thirds of them are pumping “24/7,” he said, adding that the elevated water tower in Southampton Village was drawn down to just 10 feet at one point, leaving very little availability for emergency uses, such as for hospitals.

To address the growing water concerns, Mr. Szabo reported that the authority has approached the Town of Southampton about acquiring an easement on town property for a new well to serve the area and to allow for system capacity upgrades. The authority also has asked Southampton Village officials if there is any property in the village that could hold a new well in a one-story building to help meet demand. Mayor Mark Epley said the village is considering it.

Meanwhile, Herman Miller, deputy chief executive officer for operations at the water authority, confirmed last week that a new wellfield—in the pipeline for a few years—is being installed near the Head of Pond Road and Blank Lane area of Water Mill, in an effort to keep up with an ever-increasing demand, and to ensure that there will be enough water in the tank in the event of an emergency.

A number of homeowners with private wells are converting over to public water, Mr. Miller noted, adding that the system is particularly strained by lawn watering overnight. “Each person uses 100 to 150 gallons of water per day on average for cooking and other uses,” he said. “The unknown is the irrigation factor. People have an interest in keeping their grass green.”

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The county needs to focus on commercial and large private properties that have landscape irrigation installed. Rain sensors and moister meters should be required on all commercial and large private sprinkler systems. Drive down route 27 and 39 in the morning and count how many sprinkler systems are on while it's raining or just after it has stopped raining. How simple and inexpensive is it to install rain/ moisture sensors. We need new county regulations.
By deelove (140), Bridgehampton on Jul 17, 10 5:05 AM
3 members liked this comment
Drive down the street some nights, or days and take notice of the fresh water being spilled into the street. Simply squandered, and wasted on the purposes of vanity.
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 19, 10 9:15 AM
The cityits probably didn't get the memo about conserving water
By SagHarborBob (91), Sag Harbor on Jul 17, 10 8:04 AM
2 members liked this comment
spelling: cidiots
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Jul 25, 10 5:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
This is the most ridiculous story. "This could be a historic year for consumption". Huh? People: u are free to use as much water as you like. This is just another progressive attack on your way of life from bureaucratic hacks who need to prove their existence.
We are not in a drought, so carry on and have fun. Water the lawns, wash your cars and pursue happiness.
By tuckahoetrip (46), Water Mill on Jul 17, 10 8:10 AM
2 members liked this comment
You, are a fool.

Use of freedom is one thing, abuse at the expense of others, is another.

There are places in this world people STILL kill, and die for fresh water. Go ahead, keep squandering a precious natural resource, which also composes about 62% of your body, and see what happens when salt water intrudes into the aquifer.

Though over 75% of this planet is covered with water, only THREE PERCENT of it is fresh, drinkable water that will not KILL you in eventuality ...more
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 19, 10 9:05 AM
you don't know what your talking about. get your facts straight before you say such silly things.
By local (106), north sea on Jul 25, 10 8:31 PM
that was for tuckahoe trip and who ever else agrees with her.
By local (106), north sea on Jul 25, 10 8:33 PM
I agree w/Tuckahoetrick (despite her profession) I will be turning on all of my hoses and running them 24/7 until we are out of water to protest this freedom binding legislation that is upon us - my lawn will die from over watering, then I will replant and repeat!
I also have a newborn (who happens to be kind of ugly) which was kind of like, an accident...If I can contribute to using all of our water resources maybe little Carling wont be able to get any drinking water in her pre-teen stage ...more
By dogfacejones (80), Southampton on Jul 17, 10 9:44 AM
3 members liked this comment
Ditto -- suck all water out of the ground to satisfy our urges, then drill baby drill and suck all the oil out of the ground.

The hell with BP leak issues, even if this Gulf leak and future leaks (yes, there will likely be more) poison all the oceans of the word.

The hell with whether there is anything left for our children and future generations.

Drill baby drill !!!

"Water the lawns, wash your cars and pursue happiness."

We may not be in a water drought ...more
By PBR (4906), Southampton on Jul 17, 10 10:20 AM
Dont ask me to stop watering my 1/2 acre!!!!Start with the polo fields and mansions and if its still not enough then ill turn it off
By GoldenBoy (339), EastEnd on Jul 17, 10 11:08 AM
if we all had your attitude we would be in deep trouble.
By local (106), north sea on Jul 25, 10 8:41 PM
A quick drive down Gin Lane and you will see luxuriant, green lawns with no sign or browning or drought. The sprinklers are on even when it rains.
By setyoufree (69), Sag Harbor on Jul 17, 10 2:18 PM
I am not a sprinkler guy, but a lot of the big houses I have worked on have seperate wells for irrigation.
By DJ9222 (85), southampton on Jul 18, 10 1:29 AM
1 member liked this comment
all that water comes from the same place ...
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Jul 25, 10 5:09 PM
all coming from shared aquifers.
By local (106), north sea on Jul 25, 10 8:38 PM
Near the ocean, and especially on Meadow Lane from Halsey Neck Lane to the Inlet, finding good well water for irrigation (in high gallons per minute flow each morning) is really difficult.

The salt water intrusion under the fresh water confines the good water to a small "lens" which can move over time.

Editor, please authorize Colleen to look further into this, and find out from SCWA who the heavy users are in Southampton Village.

Thanks.
By MJP (13), On Quiogue on Jul 18, 10 10:23 AM
Do you suppose that the draining of those "lenses", is a contributor to beach erosion?

I have a suspicion it is, due to the fact fresh water is heavier, and denser than salt water, and would "bouy" it back from intruding under land.
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 19, 10 9:24 AM
Good point DJ---A lot of us here depend on the ability to irrigate the gardens and landscapes of the properties in wuestion for our livelyhoods. If the homeowner can pay the water bill lwt him use whatever water he needs. Enough with the class envy.
By bigfresh (4244), north sea on Jul 18, 10 10:25 AM
bigfresh, I want to make sure I understand you.

"If the homeowner can pay the water bill lwt [sic] him use whatever water he needs."

Is this an accurate quote?

So the richest person gets to define life for all the rest of us? If he or she wants to pump all the water out of the ground, and all the oil too, it is OK as long as they can pay for it?

Who has the class envy in giving the rich this permission?
By PBR (4906), Southampton on Jul 18, 10 2:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
I agree, PBR.

This is NOT about class envy. That's too simple a picture. It's moreover about ostentatious vanity, squandering, and other generally wasteful behavior.
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 19, 10 9:44 AM
Thats what overdevelopment will do. Raise the water usage rates to fund more capacity. What is Suffolk County complaining about. The East End pays way more in taxes than they get back from the county!
By Walt (285), Southampton on Jul 18, 10 1:23 PM
geothermal ac units use a lot as well. And guess which houses have a ton of them that run 24/7! Right in the lovely overpirce, overhyped Hamptons estates.
By LovedHerTown (130), southampton on Jul 18, 10 2:31 PM
Correct LovedHerTown, and these geothermal A/C units pump the discharge water right back into the ground with little or no governmental monitoring about whether the water might be contaminated in some way.

The probability of contamination may be low, but why haven't our leaders required some kind of protection for our ground water?
By PBR (4906), Southampton on Jul 18, 10 2:45 PM
There's one other thing that people may not have considered with "open loop" geothermal systems, and that is "thermal pollution" of the aquifer.

There are bacteria called "extremophiles", which do live deep underground. All the heat removed by a geothermal system has to go somewhere with an "open loop", and that somewhere is at the bottom of the return well.
Jul 19, 10 9:09 AM appended by Mr. Z
I'll let your mind wander about how a small change in their environment could affect us all.
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 19, 10 9:09 AM
LovedHerTown & PBR; Geothermal A/C units are simple open loop systems that are quite efficent compaired to more convential systems or window units. The people who pay the extra bucks to have them installed should be commended. The systems are simple open loops with the ground being the open portion of the loop. There is more ground water polution from rain.
By bird (776), Southampton on Jul 18, 10 4:20 PM
bird,

I agree with your commendation of those who elect efficiency for geothermal systems.

But what if the discharge from the system into the ground water is contaminated?

That is the problem with "open loop" systems. We (our regulatory agencies) have NO control over the discharge.

If a terrorist cell wanted to poison our ground water, could they introduce a lethal agent into ONE discharge well and poison us all? Unlikely, yes, but is this possibility on our radar ...more
By PBR (4906), Southampton on Jul 18, 10 5:01 PM
Bird, you are correct.
By setyoufree (69), Sag Harbor on Jul 19, 10 9:56 AM
Closed loop is the safest, most "environmentally friendly" route.

No dumping of heated water into the aquifer there. Remember, A/C removes heat from the indoors, and it has to go somewhere. With a window unit, it is dumped outside, with an open loop, it is dumped underground.
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 22, 10 1:24 AM
I am an irrigation contractor that services several large estates in the SH village. As far as the rich using more than their fair share is wrong I think. Many of the estates have water meters just for irrigation. SCWA sold these meters knowing what the output could be at peak and didn't have the distribution system to suport all the 1 1/2" and 2" water services they installed. If you want to talk about the wast of water that is a different story. Many of the systems in the area are very poorly ...more
By greenmonster (20), southampton on Jul 18, 10 5:29 PM
Thank you greenmonster,

Please post the names and addresses of your largest SHV clients and the data on their water usage.

If SCWA does not have the infrastructure in place to support the 2" supplies in place (and yes, there are many IMO), what in your opinion needs to be done?

How can we protect OUR water supply from the rich?
By PBR (4906), Southampton on Jul 18, 10 5:48 PM
I am not sure if you really expect me to put the names of my clients on the internet but I like earning a living so I am not going to. I don't believe that the water needs protecting from the rich, it needs to be handled better by SCWA. Maybe let them put in another well in the village somewhere.
By greenmonster (20), southampton on Jul 19, 10 7:26 AM
Plus, posting the private information of others on the internet is not only illegal, but prosecutable.
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 19, 10 9:27 AM
There is a drought. I stopped watering my lawn. My lawn is dead. There is a drought, I drive through the estate neighborhoods, their laws are lush and green and drenched. They are using more water to keep their lawn than I am.
By setyoufree (69), Sag Harbor on Jul 19, 10 9:58 AM
o.k. and when the water is gone, it is gone, money won't matter then will it.?
By local (106), north sea on Jul 25, 10 8:44 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By local (106), north sea on Jul 25, 10 8:44 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By local (106), north sea on Jul 25, 10 8:44 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By local (106), north sea on Jul 25, 10 8:44 PM
can someone tell me why the hampton bays water disstrict issued a water alert with rationing- ie even number houses can water laws, wash cars etc on even numbered days etc, when the SCWA specifically cited the SV area as the highest use area WHY AREN'T THEY BEING RATIONED??? this doesn't make sense to me.
By CaptainSig (704), Dutch Harbor on Jul 18, 10 10:37 PM
Probably because they have too much money to pay pin-striped suited lawyers, to be told what to do.
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 19, 10 9:37 AM
like I said before, my livelyhood depends on keeping gardens, pots and landscapes irrigated and in great condition. I will irrigate until forced to stop. The class envy exhibited here is puzzling. The wealthy make our local economy run, why kill the goose that laid the golden egg?
By bigfresh (4244), north sea on Jul 19, 10 6:04 PM
bigfresh, ditto for my livelihood.

No one is seeking to kill the goose, only suggesting that they are not entitled to suck all the water and oil out of The Earth just because they can afford too.

Greed and money poison.

A balance should be struck IMO.
By PBR (4906), Southampton on Jul 19, 10 8:07 PM
This is not "class envy", but the realization that many out here, from middle class, to upper class, are more concerned with green lawns than conservation. Just because you make your living by keeping lawns green does not make it OK to waste water. The same excuse has been used for pouring tons of harmful chemicals that seep into our water supply and it is not acceptable.

I make my living in the freelance market and the government has made it easier for the work I do to be outsourced ...more
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Jul 20, 10 10:28 AM
not sure why but my comment about how when it's gone,it's gone kept repeating itself. perhaps that was a good thing!
By local (106), north sea on Jul 25, 10 8:47 PM
Once again, this is NOT about class envy. That's too simple a picture. It's moreover about ostentatious vanity, squandering, and other generally wasteful behavior.
Jul 20, 10 11:53 PM appended by Mr. Z
There are places in this world people STILL kill, and die for fresh water. Go ahead, keep squandering a precious natural resource, which also composes about 62% of your body, and see what happens when salt water intrudes into the aquifer. Though over 75% of this planet is covered with water, only THREE PERCENT of it is fresh, drinkable water that will not KILL you in eventuality if you consume it as your only resource. You have to be TOLD to conserve a resource essential to life itself?
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 19, 10 11:53 PM
3 members liked this comment
You're overreacting. It's impossible to waste water unless you shoot it into outerspace. What we are capable of, and very guilty of, is wasting water resources. That includes the fossil fuels needed to provide us with clean water, as well as potable freshwater. On Long Island we won't run out of potable water - we will simply be forced to turn to more expensive methods of freshwater which includes desalination which is entirley effective. It's just not efficient.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 20, 10 2:24 PM
Nature,

Maybe we won't run out of potable water on LI (query -- should that be the yardstick here?), but when the "head" on the Southampton Village SCWA tower goes down to 10 feet per the article, and threatens emergency fire protection, does not a larger issue arise?

If our great fire department has to respond to a major incident downtown (remember the Sag Harbor Emporium Hardware fire years ago -- was it a Sunday?), and the water pressure is so low that it is difficult to knock ...more
By PBR (4906), Southampton on Jul 20, 10 3:19 PM
Nature, "Impossible to waste water unless you shoot it into outerspace"?! Not sure where you get your science, but you are incorrect. Here is something I shared with my children that perhaps you should read http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/teacher_resources/own_goals/wasting_water
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Jul 21, 10 12:26 PM
Here is a recent article about desalination plants in Australia http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/11/world/asia/11water.html
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 20, 10 2:36 PM
Just because General Electric developed some useful tech, does not mean it would be viable here.

Who would pay for it? Where would it be located?

Most likely not in anyone's backyard here. It's a great idea, but hardly a feasible alternative considering the expense, and the inability to locate a plant without what would most likely be a massive outcry of NIMBY.

Whe have a way Mother Nature provided, which is basically free, that works, as long as we don't pi$$ it away...
Jul 20, 10 8:04 PM appended by Mr. Z
By the way, seems like there was plenty of negative response in that there article over the project.
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 20, 10 8:04 PM
"Where would it be located?"

That's easy... PDD baby. We can put it anywhere we want.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 21, 10 10:30 PM
I didn't say it was a positive thing - I just said it's an option. It's not like we are going to wake up one day and not have water to drink.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 20, 10 10:01 PM
Frankly, it's an option that is not necessary, should we choose to be proper stewards of our environment.

You speak of the wealthy who "drive our economy". I perceive quite the opposite. These "wealthy", have DESTROYED our local economy. Look around you, don't you see the damage all their excessive behavior has committed?

You need to wonder why so many people around the world hate "America"?

Probably because they could live off of what we pi$$ away in a year, for a ...more
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 20, 10 11:16 PM
The local landscapers, gardeners, painters, construction workers, plumbers, electricians , restauranteurs and business owners would disagree with your statement regarding the wealthy destroying the local economy Mr. Z. The second homeowners also keep Southampton's school taxes low without sending kids to school here. May the rich get richer!
By bigfresh (4244), north sea on Jul 21, 10 6:49 AM
"Local" service people are predominantly Latino or west of the canal. It's been 30 years since the local population could provide the labor for local services.
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Jul 25, 10 5:13 PM
Nature,

Please answer my hypothetical questions from yesterday at 3:19 PM.

If the water pressure drops so low that our great local fire department cannot extinguish a major fire in downtown Southampton Village, where is the value in having potable water a day or two later (after the pumps and storage towers have caught up with the rich sucking us dry)?
By PBR (4906), Southampton on Jul 21, 10 7:38 PM
Umm... I never said that wasn't a problem. All I said was people are overreacting by saying we are wasting water. No we aren't, we are wasting water resources and fire dept. needs can fit into that.

Maybe it's time to look at alternative water sources for the Fire Dept? Certainly salt water would lead to corrosion problems - but what about water from Lake Agawam? Isn't it a little silly that our "precious" water that we need for drinking is used to put out fires? It doesn't need ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 21, 10 10:29 PM
Obviously, you've never been in the fire service, or completed "Taxpayer" training in Yaphank.

Water is utilized at it's nearest, feasible source. If that means draughting the bay, so be it. If it means priming a well, so be it. If it means laying hundreds of feet of hose, and relay pumping from a SCWA hydrant, so be it.

And, after draughting the bay, you need fresh water to flush the truck, unless you would rather see that few hundred thousand dollar community investment rot ...more
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 22, 10 1:11 AM
actually mr Z if you look at the local FD budgets, i think the trucks are actually plated in gold, which i don't think will corrode
By CaptainSig (704), Dutch Harbor on Jul 24, 10 6:59 AM
All the ones looking for work might not, or who have not worked in quite some time. I keep looking through the want ads for electrical work, can't seem to find any. No real CDL jobs out there either. I have a father who has finally found some steady work, two years after the meltdown.

Maybe you are in a fortunate position to benefit from them at the current time, but the vast majority of us are not.

I think bigfresh may be very young, or very ignorant of History. And, still ...more
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 21, 10 10:08 PM
49, business and home owner, student of history.
By bigfresh (4244), north sea on Jul 22, 10 6:21 AM
Then you are ahead of the "de pecuniae" segregation curve.

Those of us in "Gen X" have found our dollar worth a bit less than yours was when you were our age. It's even worse for "Gen Y".

In 1972, calculated for inflation, my father's dollar was worth a quarter compared to 1920, when a dollar was worth a dollar.

In 2000, when I was his age then, my dollar was worth 5 cents by comparison.

That's right, FIVE TIMES LESS. Five times less the buying power, and five ...more
Jul 22, 10 11:32 PM appended by Mr. Z
Have you ever read "A People's History of the United States", by Howard Zinn?
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 22, 10 11:32 PM
Personal favorite, "Wall St. owns the country", from 1890.

Lo, how little has changed...
Jul 24, 10 6:33 AM appended by Mr. Z
If you have read "Civil Disobedience", by H.D. Thoreau, read it again...
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 23, 10 6:33 AM
SCWA Needs to do a few things:
1) Use emails to ratepayers for Water Alerts. I got a flyer in my mailbox that I only check on weekends. Get modern
2) Offer water efficiency training for homeowners and irrigation professionals
3) Graduated rates for homes with irrigation systems as an economic disincentive to allow waste
4) Offer incentives to switch to front loading clothes washers that use less water and detergent
5) Closed loop ground source heat pumps are the least risky from ...more
By sansouci (9), Southampton on Jul 23, 10 8:28 AM
1 member liked this comment
I drove past the Remsenburg elementary school yesterday and to my surprise all the sprinklers were on. I have no issues with people watering their lawns, but doing so in the middle of a storm seems a bit excessive! Nobody seems to be complaining about the huge tax base all year round residents benefit from due to the summer residents who use few, if any, of the town or village services. If they want to water their lawns, let them. Maybe we should start with waste that the taxpayers have control ...more
By Quoguer (8), Quogue on Jul 24, 10 6:46 AM
Narrated by Malcol McDowell, this is an award winning, interesting look into water, or the lack thereof, inciting war.


http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Blue_Gold_World_Water_Wars/70113047?trkid=1548385
Jul 24, 10 9:10 AM appended by Mr. Z
It also addresses waste, excess, poverty, developing nations, and corporate greed related to commerce.
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 24, 10 9:10 AM
An increase in keratitis infections has been reported in New York hospitals.

An increase in the responsible bacteria, due to "open loop" thermal pollution of the aquifer?

Only time and research will tell...
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 26, 10 11:21 PM
Nowadays, many buildings with geothermal heating and cooling have closed loops instead of open. Some of the biggest houses around here have about forty of them, as do some of the east end libraries. Smaller houses might only have three. Closed loops pull no water from from the aquifer. Temperature changes average 5ยบ higher or lower depending on the season.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Jul 28, 10 1:12 AM
This, I know. HOWEVER we really have no data on just how many open loops are out there, and if we do, I'd like to see it.
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 28, 10 5:30 PM
Yes, but open loops were traditionally cheaper, and one is more than too many.

It would most likely surprise you to know just how many open loop systems were installed in the last five years.

I know of a "home" on Further La. which is open, as well as quite a few others.
Jul 28, 10 5:21 PM appended by Mr. Z
Here is how they dealt with the issue on Shelter Island last year. http://www2.timesreview.com/SIR/stories/I-board-02-05
By Mr. Z (11112), North Sea on Jul 28, 10 5:21 PM