New York American Water in Merrick in 2018. 

New York American Water in Merrick in 2018.  Credit: Danielle Silverman

Kudos to State Sens. Todd Kaminsky, John Brooks and Jim Gaughran for denouncing what I view as New York American Water’s ruinous rate hike. Safe, affordable water is a life necessity, even more so during the pandemic. I believe we can take three crucial steps to boost access to water during this crisis and beyond.

First, establish a national moratorium on utility shutoffs, such as the one passed in May by the U.S. House of Representatives in the Heroes Act and supported by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, but held up by the Republican-controlled Senate. Second, pass the Water Act (Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity, and Reliability), federal legislation that would boost investment in water infrastructure and may create nearly a million green jobs. Third, remove control of our water systems from private corporations such as New York American Water and put it into the hands of the public.

Eric Weltman,


Editor’s note: The writer is senior organizer for Food & Water Action, an activist group based in Washington, D.C.

The $1,377 customer bill cited in “Feeling tapped out” is an extreme example and not representative of the majority of our New York American Water customers. Such a high water bill occurs only when a customer uses more than 150,000 gallons of water a month. The average customer in our Service Area 1 uses 8,000 gallons a month, with a bill of $70.

The upcoming rate increase approved by the Public Service Commission, which was delayed from April 1 to Sept. 1, is designed to recover $55 million invested in 2020 to improve infrastructure and water quality. The average customer in this service area will see his or her bill increase less than $5 per month. It is imperative to note that 31 cents to 55 cents of every dollar that our customers pay is for taxes.

The special franchise tax levied on our customers, which I see as unfair, is significant. If efforts to remove the special franchise tax are successful with the State Legislature, customers will directly benefit from a reduction in their monthly bill. This is the best way to provide rate relief for our customers.

Lynda DiMenna,


Editor’s note: The writer is president of New York American Water.

Bravo for upgrading NY water standards

As someone who has worked to raise awareness about toxins for years, it is great to see New York safety standards for the likely carcinogen 1,4-dioxane, and possible carcinogens perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The article highlights the high costs we all must pay to clean them up. As acknowledged by the editorial board, this is a perfect example of how not investing in our environment ends up costing us later. I hope those who do not see the value in environmental protection start putting 2+2 together. However, each of us unknowingly contributes to these problems when we choose to use common detergents and soaps containing 1,4-dioxane in our homes (a state ban won’t take effect until Dec. 31, 2022). Local environmental groups can help us identify them. PFOS and PFOA are found in fast-food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, nonstick pans and some pizza boxes. The state legislature recently passed a ban on this, too — the governor just needs to sign it. There are safer alternatives, so we can remove unnecessary toxins from our environment and protect our health if we make an effort to be aware and make better choices.

Beth Fiteni,

Huntington Station

Editor’s note: The writer is director of Green Inside and Out, which is a member of the JustGreen Partnership.

Wisconsin shooting prompts reactions

“What does the Negro want” was the silly question posed by media and politicians during many decades of my life. The question has changed only slightly these days. It’s now: What does the African American want?

The answer was never difficult to appreciate. He/she wants what you want: good schools with quality instruction so his/her children can compete in the open market, good housing with the same services as everyone else wherever he/she can afford to buy, fair and equitable treatment everywhere in this society, freedom from police violence and brutality — inequities that technology makes obvious to all but the willfully blind. Whether in sports, education, housing or the job market, Blacks want America to live up to its creed and to eliminate the ugly myths and lies that continue to divide this country.

I couldn’t be more proud of the athletes in various professional sports who put careers and legacies at risk to make this simple point.

Robert Mays,


Why would anyone be shocked at the latest killing, now in Wisconsin. Another young man, with an assault weapon, deputizing himself, decided to play “cops.” Absent the hateful rhetoric coming from the White House and the easy access to guns of every variety, this might never have happened. Now, his life and the lives of his victims are over. A sad state of affairs all around.

Peaceful protest in the United States is historic, violence on all sides is not. Time to redo. Time for real leadership from the White House. If only that could be.

Joan Nelson,


We are now at the point where the police apparently have decided, at least in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to express their appreciation for the “help” of heavily armed vigilantes. Anyone of the right skin color — white — may arm himself or herself with deadly weapons, even deadlier than the police’s, and join in. This teenager, we’re to understand, was free to roam the streets under police protection, kill people and be supplied with drinking water. And if he’s arrested, should he worry? A great judicial system is in place that might very well get him acquitted, as long as the victim is nonwhite and the shooter professes to be a “friend” of the police. After all, one does have the right to defend oneself. This privilege was always reserved for the police, but in Kenosha it now seems to be extended to “friends” of the police as well. Call me pessimistic, but I don’t see this ending well at all.

Ernst P.A. Vanamson,


Get BOCES to assist in school openings

As school districts scramble to find safe ways to start school, it seems there is a huge void into which BOCES should be stepping. Many schools are going to a hybrid model in order to have enough room for social distancing, which puts half of its students on remote learning at any given time. Additionally, many working parents need to find safe locations for their kids during that time. BOCES should be able to step in to provide technology protocols and networks across the Island at locations designated by communities to serve these needs. If it doesn’t have the capability, it should figure out how to develop it, sooner rather than later.

Sherry Skolnik,


Editor’s note: The writer, a retired English teacher, is a former school board president for the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District and Bellmore elementary schools.


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