Biggest users: Select few on South Fork use millions of gallons of water

Some part-time South Fork residents are using millions of gallons more water a year than the average full-time household, a News 12 Long Island investigation

Some part-time South Fork residents are using millions of gallons more water a year than the average full-time household, a News 12 Long Island investigation has found.

Some part-time South Fork residents are using millions of gallons more water a year than the average full-time household, a News 12 Long Island investigation has found. (8/30/16)

SOUTHAMPTON - Some part-time South Fork residents are using millions of gallons more water a year than the average full-time household, a News 12 Long Island investigation has found.

The average Suffolk County home uses around 120,000 gallons of water a year, officials say. But according to the Suffolk County Water Authority, a handful of homes, mostly on the South Fork, use 50 to 100 times that amount — and they are a major drain on the local aquifer system.

One home alone used more than 22 million gallons of water last year, according to officials.

"I would say, if we don't get a change [in] perhaps 10 years or earlier, it could be a crisis," says Jim Gaughran, of the Water Authority. "People that use that much water when it's a single residential home are the people that are taxing our supply significantly."

Through a Freedom of Information Law request, News 12 obtained the names of some of the county's biggest water users. They include the billionaire industrialist David Koch, who used the 22 million gallons, music producer David Geffen, who used more than 6 million gallons, and investment mogul Andrew Zaro, who used more than 10 million gallons.

Environmental activists say that excessive overuse of water can lead to salt water infiltration of Long Island's aquifers and contamination of drinking water.

"As these water hogs use more and more water, withdrawing, creating a drawdown in our water levels, they're actually causing plumes to move and migrate more rapidly," says Adrienne Esposito, of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

To deal with the heavy usage on the East End, the Water Authority spent $20 million to upgrade its public well system by adding additional wells and enlarging pipes. Officials say the cost of those upgrades was spread among all customers, not just the people who use them.

The added cost isn't sitting well with some residents, who say they used to pay around $20 for water, and now shell out more than $100.

The Water Authority says it doesn't currently have the legal power to force the top water users to cut back. Assemblyman Fred Thiele says it may be necessary to change that in the future — but for now he says it's everyone's responsibility to conserve.

"I think we need to change habits now and behaviors now, before we get to the point where we have to impact everybody with mandatory restrictions," Thiele says.

News 12 attempted to ask about the water usage at the Koch residence, but was turned away.

advertisement | advertise on News 12

Top 5 Must See

A growing number of Long Islanders are jumping 1 Going Vegan: National trend growing on LI
2 The Download: Tech News for 3/22
An attacker is treated by emergency services outside 3 4 dead in vehicle, knife attack near British Parliament
Irwin Scharf, of North Massapequa, says he noticed 4 Tax rebate may be restored to thousands of Nassau seniors
In a News 12/Newsday special report, has been 5 LI garbage barge of '87 still influences solid waste disposal

advertisement | advertise on News 12

Features

Each week, News 12's Doug Geed explores the Check out fun things to do on the East End!

Explore the Twin Forks with News 12's Doug Geed.

Each week a different shelter visits News 12 Dog Day Fridays Series

Each week a different shelter visits News 12 Long Island with pets up for adoption.

News 12 digs deep to find Long Island's Discover Long Island's Hidden Past

News 12's Danielle Campbell digs into Long Island's roots.

News 12's Lily Stolzberg sees how much Long On The Spot

News 12's Lily Stolzberg sees how much Long Islanders know about everything and anything.

Sorry to interrupt...

Your first 5 are free

Access to News12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service Electric℠ video customers.

Please enjoy 5 complimentary views to articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.

LOGIN SUBSCRIBE