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Public takeover study of Nassau water service due

The Water Authority of Southeastern Nassau County expects to release by late summer or early fall a feasibility study of a possible public takeover of the former Aqua New York Inc., which was purchased last year by the parent company of Long Island American Water, officials said.

A utility appraisal and engineering services firm was hired in July by the water authority to study the potential costs and benefits of taking over the service area, which was formerly owned by Aqua. Representatives from the firm will visit Long Island at the end of the month to do a “boots on the ground” assessment, authority chairman Richard Ronan said at a Wednesday meeting in Massapequa.

Once the study is completed the board will hold a public hearing, possibly followed by a public referendum to determine whether a takeover should proceed. The authority likely would need a $100 million bond for 30 years to buy the former Aqua service area and pay for capital improvement projects, Ronan said.

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“Education will be the key,” said Ronan, adding state law gives the authority the power to take over Aqua’s former service area in parts of Hempstead and Oyster Bay towns. “This would be a huge operation.”

Supporters of a public takeover said it could mean long-term savings for former Aqua customers. But others argued a takeover would result in the loss of property taxes paid by the water company, which school districts would have to recoup through increased taxes.

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