Most Long Islanders have little reason to question the way the water system works. Lawns are automatically sprinkled and cars routinely washed in the driveway. But the oppressive recent heat wave and drought, which have halted these mundane activities, should also make us rethink the way water is delivered to our households and businesses.

The amount of water available isn't the issue - Long Island has deep aquifers. Instead, it's a matter of how well we are served by multiple layers of government, especially our balkanized water distribution system. There are more than 50 public, independent and private water districts across Long Island. Nassau County hosts 33 of them, and their pumps are straining at capacity - to the point that Bethpage, Franklin Square and Oyster Bay, among other communities, now face restrictions on their water usage.

Why can't the pumps deliver? Complying with the current usage advisories may help reduce the stress on these overworked pumps for now. Still, if they break down or there's insufficient pressure to fight fires, these measures simply won't do. While our lawns brown and our foliage wilts with this faulty system, Long Islanders have to wonder if it makes sense to keep around these small private and public companies that say they can't reliably deliver when demand increases. hN