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Report on Suffolk County water quality is now online
The Suffolk County Water Authority released its annual report on drinking water quality electronically for the first time.
Previously mailed as an insert in a free local newspaper, the annual report contains diagrams, maps and data on the level of contaminants in each community’s tap water. By posting the report online, SCWA will save between $85,000 and $125,000 annually, which likely will be used to improve infrastructure or to offset potential rate increases, chairman James Gaughran said.
Gaughran had wanted to move the report online years ago, but federal regulations mandated reports be mailed. Last year in Washington, Gaughran, representatives from other public utilities and lobbyists for private water companies testified about the benefits of electronic reports.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Health allowed the authority to move the report online this year, on the condition that customers were alerted of the change. The water authority purchased radio ads on multiple stations and included messages on its monthly bills.
Mailing the paper reports was “a total waste of time in today’s age of the Internet,” Gaughran said. “We were complying with the law just because we had to.”
In making the data available online, the authority not only saves money and paper, it also makes information easier to navigate, Gaughran said. With a few clicks, customers can search directly for their neighborhood; before they had to sift through tables of data on the whole county.
The authority still offers paper copies upon request. As of last week, 40 customers had asked for a hard copy, Gaughran said.