Moving ahead with public water plans for south Nassau


Advocacy groups have been ramping up efforts for a public takeover of Liberty Utilities after the private company, which supplies water to roughly 113,000 Town of Hempstead residents, recently sought a cumulative 34.2 percent rate hike across Nassau County.

Long Island Clean Air Water & Soil, an advocacy group that has long fought for public water, held a meeting in Merrick on June 15 to discuss what could be done to fight the rate increase.

Just over a month ago, Liberty filed a notice with the state Public Service Commission for the rate increase, which would impact three districts that Liberty serves on Long Island: Lynbrook, Merrick and Sea Cliff.

The private company is seeking the increase to offset the cost of “necessary plant investments, high tax burdens, the installation of advanced metering infrastructure, proposed low-income and arrearage management programs, and a fee-free program for electronic payment of Liberty NYW invoices,” according to the filing.

The company added that the rate hike would also help cover the cost of 17 new jobs that were created at its Merrick offices, as well as “the implementation of a low-income program” to provide aid to certain customers.

If the state approves a rate increase after holding public hearings, it would take effect on April 1, 2024.

In November 2021, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill creating the South Nassau Water Authority, a public entity with the sole purpose of taking over Liberty.

As of early May, the water authority board was composed of John Reinhardt, Ella Stevens, Robert Gizzi and Mark Plumer, with one open seat to be filled by