The Suffolk County Water Authority on Thursday will launch the first major water conservation initiative in its history in an effort to curb peak summer usage in the three East End towns and limit spending on water treatment and demand for new wells.
Authority officials will announce the new effort, dubbed the East End Water- Wise Club, at a Sag Harbor news conference with Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) and Suffolk County Legis. Bridget Fleming (D-Noyack). A mailing will go out to 42,000 homes in Southampton, East Hampton and Southold asking customers to participate voluntarily.
SCWA officials say the initiative will encourage customers to participate in an odd-even day water sprinkling to ease agricultural irrigation and residential home sprinkler use during the peak midnight and 7 a.m. period.
Customers can get up to a $50 credit on their water bills by installing water-saving shower heads, water faucets and sensors that cut off sprinklers when it is raining.
Authority officials say they also will encourage conservation through increased education efforts.
They note that reducing shower times to under five minutes can save as much as 1,000 gallons a month. A family of four that does not keep faucets running while brushing their teeth can save up to 200 gallons.
Szabo said the pilot conservation effort, if successful, could be expanded west.
“We are urging customers to join the program so we can relieve the burden on the system at peak periods,” he said.
Making the new program noteworthy is the fact that SCWA’s $70 million budget is almost totally funded through water rates. In the past, the agency has done little to reduce consumption so as not to impact revenues.
Officials now say conservation could be key to easing costs. They note that since 2010 the authority has spent more than $20 million on the East End on wells, water treatment and other capital costs to help meet peak demand.
Officials say 131 of the authority’s 587 wells are located on the East End. The authority pumps 65 to 70 percent of its total water to customers between May and September.
Jeff Szabo, SCWA’s chief executive officer, said the agency hopes to get 2,000 to 4,000, customers to participate in the program.
Officials believe the agency may be able to save as much as 451,000 to 900,000 gallons daily out of the 18.4 million gallons normally pumped during overnight periods when irrigation and many residential sprinkler systems are in use.
Szabo said the authority also plans to reach out by email, automated calls, bill inserts and personal visits to some of the largest East End users including golf courses that consume as much 20 million gallons a year, far more than the 160,000 gallons used by the average homeowner.