SUEZ’ 2016 Watershed Recreation Program Features Exciting Updates

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Each year, the SUEZ Watershed Recreation Program has opened company reservoir property to program participants for fishing, hiking and birding activities during the spring, summer and fall seasons.

The program, open through November 30, provides participants with access to more than 6,000 acres of watershed property in both New York and New Jersey, including Lake DeForest in Rockland County and Lake Tappan, Woodcliff Lake and Oradell reservoirs in Bergen County. This unique recreation program offers residents the ability to enjoy the beauty of local watersheds, and reflect on the importance of protecting local water resources.

This year, SUEZ is excited to introduce a number of enhancements that are designed to work towards making the watershed recreation participant experience more enjoyable. Two new trails have been established along the Oradell Reservoir and informational kiosks about the watershed have been erected in Haworth and Emerson, New Jersey. Program participants will also receive a “Reservoir Ranger” Junior Naturalist Activity Book for children between the ages of six and 12 that features interactive learning opportunities about watershed locations. Finally, a new family permit has been introduced so that everyone in a household can enjoy the program at a reduced fee.

Wheelchair accessible areas are located at Lake Tappan and Woodcliff Lake.

Permit holders who intend to fish must have valid New York and/or New Jersey State fishing licenses.

Those interested in purchasing a Watershed Recreation Program permit can apply online at www.suezwatershed.com. The website also features a downloadable Watershed Recreation Brochure, which details key information on watershed locations as well as the types of wildlife that can be observed throughout the properties.

Residents who wish to receive an application through the mail may call for assistance at 201-767-7300 x3208.

Sign Up for Guided Paddling on Lake DeForest Day!

SUEZ to Celebrate 60th Anniversary of Lake DeForest

The 60th anniversary celebration of Lake DeForest, the Supervisor’s Challenge and five hours of kayaking will highlight the second annual Lake DeForest Day to be hosted by SUEZ on Sunday, May 22. More than 500 kayakers are expected to participate at the reservoir in West Nyack, NY.

Lake DeForest Day provides SUEZ the opportunity to offer customers access to beautiful Lake DeForest. The day has become the company’s featured community event of the year, and offers customers a way to celebrate the local environment.

The event will feature the Supervisor’s Challenge, a race scheduled for 1 p.m., matching the five town supervisors in a 200-meter tandem kayak competition. The winner will be presented the Supervisor’s Cup during the opening ceremonies at 1:30 p.m.

Kayaking will be available at two sessions beginning at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Boaters can choose to rent single kayaks or double kayaks for 2 1/2 hours at $20 per paddler. Registration is pre-event only by visiting www.LakeDeForestDay.com. Only a limited number of boat rentals are available and will be assigned on a first come, first served basis.

All proceeds of the event will go to support the ongoing work of Hackensack Riverkeeper and its mission to protect, preserve and restore the Hackensack River. As one of the leading environmental groups in the northeast, Hackensack Riverkeeper is widely renowned for its advocacy, education and conservation programs that benefit the 45-mile long river, its watershed, people and wildlife. Through its partnership with SUEZ, Riverkeeper features paddling days on the Oradell, Lake Tappan and Lake DeForest reservoirs.

Orange and Rockland Utilities is the sponsor of this year’s event, and has been a long-time supporter of the Hackensack Riverkeeper. The company is deeply involved in a number of events like Lake DeForest Day that promote the environment.

Lake DeForest, which is owned and operated by SUEZ, is a three-mile long reservoir located in the Town of Clarkstown and opened in 1956.

The boats will be launched at the south end of the Freedom Causeway and parking will be available at the New City Little League field on Strawtown Road. In addition to the Supervisor’s Challenge and the guided paddling, local high school crew teams have been invited to practice on the reservoir during the early morning hours.

In addition to Orange and Rockland Utilities participating as an event sponsor, Supervisor George Hoehmann and his staff, the New City Little League, the Town of Clarkstown Police Department, the Congers-Valley Cottage Volunteer Ambulance Corp and the River Rowing Association all provide valuable assistance for this community event.

SUEZ Files Rate Proposal to PSC

SUEZ Water New York has filed a rate proposal with the New York State Public Service Commission to fund future infrastructure investments featuring the integration of an industry-leading smart network, the recovery of lost water and a five-year conservation program offering customer rebates for large appliances and recommending a new tiered rate structure designed to promote greater customer water savings. Under the proposed new rate design, 20% of SUEZ customers would see a decrease in their water bills.

The company’s proposal, which would take effect Feb. 1, 2017, subject to approval by the Public Service Commission, pledges over $150 million in infrastructure enhancements during the next five years. It submits a plan to recover costs associated with a retired long-term water supply project over a 20-year period.

The rate filing proposes a number of innovative, multi-year infrastructure and conservation initiatives including:

  • Smart water network: The deployment of an Advanced Metering Infrastructure system, comprised of smart meters, a communications network and IT systems along with upgrades to SUEZ’ customer website will create an advanced information system. The smart network will enhance SUEZ’ ability to cost effectively reduce water lost from the distribution system while improving the customer experience by providing greater billing accuracy and helping to detect leaks.
  • Customer conservation plan: Preliminary evaluations indicate that the strategic implementation of a comprehensive conservation program embraced by customers could potentially reduce water consumption by as much as a total of 1 million gallons a day over a 10-year period. The company retained a nationally renowned firm to help craft and administer the program and is working in concert with the Commission and a panel of community stakeholders. The plan was launched in December, 2015, with a survey mailing to 15,500 Rockland customers to gather water consumption data. The program will identify and utilize best practices to achieve water savings including financial incentives such as rebates for high-efficiency clothes washers, dishwashers and toilets. SUEZ and Orange and Rockland Utilities are now studying ways to partner on some rebate offers.
  • Conservation rate design: SUEZ recommends the elimination of the current summer-winter rate structure. The new rate design would feature a three-tier pricing structure that encourages conservation while also minimizing bill impacts to fixed income customers and others who currently consume minimal amounts of water. Low water-use households may even see a slight decrease in their monthly bills under the proposal.
  • Infrastructure upgrades: An array of enhancements is proposed to upgrade and modernize water infrastructure, including an accelerated water-loss recovery program, dynamic pressure management practices and improvements to dams and storage tanks.
  • Incremental water supply: The proposal also submits a plan to implement water supply initiatives that include water supply wells, potential agreements with water systems in and adjacent to Rockland County, and increasing the amount of water supplied from existing sources. It also recommends a study to identify and secure additional water from the Ramapo Valley Well Field.

The proposed $11.6 million increase to base rates and the proposed conservation rate design would result in a projected $0.27 per day increase for a typical residential customer using approximately 6,700 gallons a month. Customers who typically use 3,400 gallons or less a month would see a $0.06 per day reduction in their bills. While this potential increase reflects a one-year rate plan, the company is open to exploring a three-year plan that would result in lower annual increases.

SUEZ is also proposing to recover its costs of approximately $54 million associated with the long-term water supply over a 20-year period. At the urging of local Rockland County government officials, the Commission ordered the company to pursue a long-term water supply project in 2006 and again in 2010. However, the Commission directed SUEZ to abandon the project last year and to pursue conservation efforts, water recovery strategies and small-scale water supply projects as outlined in the company’s 10-year feasibility report filed in June, 2015.

As one of the largest property taxpayers in Rockland, recent hikes in franchise and real estate taxes translate into millions of dollars of additional expenses per year for SUEZ. Even with the proposed rate adjustment, Rockland customers will continue to pay approximately a penny a gallon for high-quality water and reliable service.

The proposed increase in rates is subject to review, analysis and decision by the Commission, which may accept, modify or reject it in whole or in part. It may take up to 11 months for the agency to render its decision.

 

Lead and Drinking Water

Our Annual Water Quality Report shows SUEZ meets the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Standard for lead and copper.  Recent events in the news have raised awareness about lead and drinking water so we’d like to share some important information about this topic.

Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. SUEZ is responsible for providing high quality drinking water, but cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing components.

Lead can enter drinking water through corrosion of plumbing materials and fixtures. Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder. However, new homes are also at risk: even legally “lead free” plumbing may contain up to eight percent lead. The most common problem is with brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures with lead solder, from which significant amounts of lead can enter into the water, especially hot water.

Corrosion is a dissolving or wearing-away of metal caused by a chemical reaction between water and your plumbing. A number of factors are involved in the extent to which lead enters the water including the chemistry of the water (acidity and alkalinity), the amount of lead it comes into contact with, how long the water stays in the plumbing materials, and the presence of protective scales or coatings inside the plumbing materials.

If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline or at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lead.

 

How can lead get into my water?

  • Lead can enter drinking water through corrosion of plumbing materials containing lead (E.g. lead service lines, lead solder or brass fixtures in your home.).
  • Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder.

 

How can I reduce potential exposure to lead?

  • When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your COLD faucet for 1–2 minutes before using water for drinking or cooking.
  • Hot water from the faucet is not recommended for drinking or cooking, especially when making baby formula or food for infants, as this water is likely to have been sitting in the hot water heater for several hours. Start with cold water instead.

 

If my water has high lead levels, is it safe to take a bath or shower?

  • Bathing and showering should be safe for you and your children, even if the water contains lead over EPA’s action level. Human skin does not absorb lead in water.

 

What are lead service lines?

  • A service line is the pipe that connects your house to the water main in the street. Some service lines that run from older homes (usually those built before 1940) to the utility water main are made from lead.

 

How can I tell if I have a lead service line in my home?

  • Lead service lines are generally a dull gray color and are very soft. You (or your plumber) can identify them easily by carefully scratching with a key. If the pipe is made of lead, the area you’ve scratched will turn a bright silver color. Do not use a knife or other sharp instrument and take care not to puncture a hole in the pipe.
  • Ownership of the lead service line is typically shared between the homeowner and the water provider. The homeowner typically owns the section of the pipe that is under the homeowner’s property.

 

How can I get my home’s tap water tested for lead?

  • The best way to find out if your household tap water contains lead is to get your water tested by a lab that is certified to test household tap water for lead. Certified labs reliably test water at an affordable cost. Ask your local health department to recommend a certified lab.

 

Helpful links for more information (remember — lead is not just a drinking water issue):

EPA Information on Lead: http://www.epa.gov/lead

CDC Information on Lead: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/leadinwater/

Supporting Our Firefighters in an Emergency

Firefighters are essential members of our community. As your water supplier, SUEZ has a responsibility to provide the water that firefighters need to save lives and property.  We meet with first responders on a regular basis to establish open lines of communication prior to an emergency.

As you know, fire hydrants are key components in an emergency response. SUEZ installs hydrants at the request of the fire department or municipality which determines the number and locations of the hydrants. We maintain the hydrants as well as the mains and valves which supply water to the hydrant, the water storage systems and the equipment which provides water pressure and flow throughout the town. In Westchester and Rockland combined, SUEZ operates about 10,000 fire hydrants which are inspected and maintained on a regular schedule.

Fire hydrants are supplied by water mains that are larger than domestic lines which serve residential customers. The larger sized main ensures that there is enough water flow, velocity, pumping capacity and pressure to fight a fire. An efficient fire suppression system is also important to a municipality’s ISO fire rating and insurance costs.

During a fire, the SUEZ team may be on the scene or may be monitoring and responding to the situation from our control room. In either scenario, we assist the incident commander by directing him or her to the hydrants that best meet their needs. We may also operate our system to send more water to the area.

When the fire has been extinguished, our team inspects each hydrant that was used to make sure it is ready for the next emergency.

As a customer, you may have discolored water or low pressure when there are firefighting activities in your area. The discolored water is due to harmless minerals which are stirred up in the main. Normal water service will resume after firefighting activities have ceased.

Finally, you also have an important role in the firefighting process. Please keep fire hydrants near your property clear of snow and debris so the fire department can have quick access to water. If you notice damage or leaks, please contact us at 845-623-1500 in Rockland or 877-266-9101 in Westchester. You will be helping your neighbors and firefighters.

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Frozen Pipes

With the winter season officially started, cold weather is in the forecast. Despite proper precautions with winterizing your home, there is a possibility that your pipes could freeze due to unforeseen circumstances.

In the event your home does suffer from frozen pipes, it is important that you act quickly to mitigate any further damage. If you believe your pipes are frozen, call a licensed plumber immediately so they are able to visit your home to locate and clear blockages. If a water pipe has frozen to the point of bursting, locate the main shutoff valve in your house and turn off the water supply. This will help to prevent further damage. If there is water within your home from leaks or bursts, don’t use electrical appliances in the area of standing water.

In the event of frozen pipes, NEVER use hot water or a blowtorch directly on a pipe or water meter to attempt to alleviate the situation. This could cause further damage or injury. It may help, however, to open a nearby faucet slightly so the pipe can drain as it continues to thaw.

If your home is prone to frozen pipes, during frigid weather you may wish to keep a small trickle of water from a sink faucet in order to maintain the movement of water. You will be billed for the water used but his may help prevent your pipes from freezing.

Let’s Stop Theft of Service

At about a penny a gallon, tap water is a great value. At SUEZ, we work hard to provide top quality service at a reasonable price—and to contain costs within our control.

Unfortunately, “theft of service” is a real problem which drives up customers’ water bills. This occurs when any party tampers with a water meter or a fire hydrant to avoid paying for water they use. Stealing water not only raises costs for honest customers, it is a crime. In addition, illegal connections can create both health and firefighting problems.

We advise our customers to notify us if they see anyone other than a SUEZ employee or a firefighter operating a fire hydrant.

Here are some examples of theft of service:

  • Unmetered service or bypassing the meter
  • Irrigation connection before the meter
  • Unauthorized fire hydrant use

In addition to educating our customers, we are planning to expand our use of advanced technology to identify theft of service. We’ll provide you with more detailed information about this project in future communications.