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West Neck Water Final Agreement on City website: Written comments accepted until April 18

The West Neck Water District Board has posted a final version of its proposed Management Lease Agreement with the Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA) on the town’s website at shelterislandtown.us. The Council will accept written comments until Wednesday, April 18.

Judging by the recent Council briefing, it appears there has been virtually no resistance to the draft. City Attorney Stephen Kiely carefully reviewed the proposed contract, detailing details including:

• A 40-year agreement to manage the West Neck Water District on behalf of current customers and an option to add new customers who request SCWA water services provided that if there is a need for capacity upgrades and/or installation of new supply wells, SCWA, upon 60 days notice of the service request, will consult with City Council prior to adding such customers.

SCWA agrees to make infrastructure improvements to the water supply and distribution system on behalf of WNW District customers who will be responsible for paying up to $1.7 million through a supplement to their invoices for these changes.

Projected changes include:

• Replacement of existing meters that are often contained in basements, under decks and other inaccessible locations with new meters to be placed in vaults at the front of each property

• Construction of a new well

• Reconfiguration of the electrical system

After five years, SCWA will assume responsibility for additional infrastructure needs that are paid for by all SCWA customers throughout the county. If changes to the West Neck Water District system cost less than $1.7 million over that five-year period, the money those customers would pay over 25 years would be reduced.

Fees charged to customers this month will remain at the current rate. The fee increase would begin to be billed this summer.

At the March briefing, Assistant Supervisor Amber Brach-Williams outlined the expected costs once the contract fee becomes viable. Access fees are expected to remain the same, with residential users paying $325 per year. Commercial users using less than 35,000 gallons of water would continue to pay $650 per year; those using 35,000 to 100,000 gallons would continue to pay $1,000; and those using more than 100,000 gallons of water would continue to pay $2,500.

It is metered usage rates that would increase to include money to pay off debt incurred due to infrastructure costs.

Users of up to 14,999 gallons of water per year would pay a rate of $11.11 per kggallon, down from $5.50 previously; Those using between 15,000 and 29,999 gallons would pay $14.65 per kggallon, down from $7.25 previously; and those using 30,000 gallons would pay $19.19 per kggallon, down from $9.50 previously. A kggallon represents 1000 gallons.

The city is applying $25,000 this year to the WNW account to pay for infrastructure costs, Ms. Brach-Williams said. The city’s grants advisor, Jennifer Mesiano Higham, is also working to determine if there are sources of grants to offset infrastructure costs. This could shorten the payback period to 25 years for this $1.7 million investment built into the current fees paid to SCWA.

The West Neck Water board had hoped to reach an agreement with SCWA by February 28, but needed more time to clarify a few aspects of the deal. The agreement will come into effect as soon as it is signed and will last until February 28, 2062, but the City may terminate the contract at any time.


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