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Public water study to begin in Sea Cliff Water District

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After a lengthy Request for Proposals process, the Village of Sea Cliff last week hired Walden Environmental Engineering, at a cost of $74,000, to study whether switching from private to public water is feasible.

The study will examine two possibilities — whether the village could establish a new public water authority, or join another such authority, Village Administrator Bruce Kennedy said.

“Our community has endured outrageous water prices for too long,” Kennedy said. “This study should create a clear path for the Sea Cliff Water District to obtain public water — clean, safe, affordable public water.”

In 2018, then State Sen. Carl Marcellino, a Republican who represented the 5th District, secured an $80,000 state grant to conduct the study. Last year, his successor, State Sen. Jim Gaughran, a Democrat from Northport, secured an additional $75,000 grant.

Kennedy, who also co-chairs the Sea Cliff Water Service Area Advisory Committee, said the study would determine whether it would be financially possible for the new water authority to buy the Sea Cliff Water District from New York American Water. If the purchase were deemed feasible, the remaining $81,000 in grant funding would pay for a hydraulic engineering study, a more in-depth analysis of how the existing infrastructure in Sea Cliff and surrounding water authorities could work together.

Gaughran said he was pleased to see the feasibility study under way, because he had advocated for public water for years. He sponsored legislation in February to establish a public water authority, and the bill was to be heard by Senate’s Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee. But a committee meeting scheduled for early April was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, so it has not yet taken up the legislation.

Gaughran said the legislation did not make it on to the floor sooner because legislators in Albany had spent most of February and March focusing on the state budget, which was passed on April 2.