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N.J. water company seeks to double LI customers

Long Island American Water pipes in Lynbrook, where

Long Island American Water pipes in Lynbrook, where there was a brown-water incident in 2010. The company flushed the pipes, and use restrictions were lifted. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein, 2010

The New Jersey water company that came under fire in a Facebook complaint campaign titled "I love Malverne but hate the brown water" said Monday it is set to double its Long Island customer base by buying a rival's New York state operations.

American Water Works Co., of Voorhees, N.J., is seeking New York public utility commission approval to supply drinking water to a 25-square-mile area of the Oyster Bay and Hempstead townships.

The communities to be added to American Water's customer base would be Merrick, Bellmore, Wantagh, Seaford, East Massapequa; and parts of North Merrick, North Bellmore, Levittown, Massapequa Park, Sea Cliff, Old Brookville, Roslyn Harbor, Glenwood Landing, Glen Head and Glen Cove.

American Water responded to its Malverne area complaints by flushing the pipes and upgrading its filtration.

If the purchase is approved, American Water Works will become the largest investor-owned water utility in New York state.

"We are pleased to nearly double our customer base in Long Island and beyond and we look forward to the opportunity of providing quality water service to all of our new customers," Bill Varley, an American Water executive, said in a Monday news release. The company says that, even before the proposed purchase, it is already the largest water supplier in Nassau County with service to a population of 220,000.

It would buy seven regulated water systems in New York state for about $71 million, adding about 152,000 people in four counties.

American Water Works, which trades as AWK, says it's the largest publicly traded water and wastewater utility company in the United States.

It has agreed to buy Aqua America Inc.'s regulated operations in New York state. In a parallel transaction American Water Works will sell its regulated operations in Ohio to Aqua America. The New York state purchase "highlights the company's commitment to operate in states where it can best create value, drive efficiencies and grow," it said.

"...Adding these systems to our existing New York operations allows us to capitalize on economies of scale in New York and provides an important opportunity for growth in areas north of New York City," American Wate Works chief executive Jeff Sterba said.

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