Officials: Spike in summer water usage strains system

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Some South Fork homeowners are continuing to use millions of gallons more water than the average person, and Suffolk water officials say it's taxing on both the water supply and the infrastructure that carries water throughout the county.

As News 12's special report "The Biggest Users" mentioned last year, water usage increases dramatically in the summer. Just like last year, billionaire David Koch topped the list of who uses the most. Since April, his South Fork summer home has used 6 million gallons. The average Suffolk County home uses about 120,000 gallons all year.

Port Jefferson resident David Kraft, who says he takes great care to conserve water, also says he's outraged over the billionaire's hefty water consumption.

"Just because you have disposable income doesn't mean you can treat everything like it means nothing to you," Kraft says. "I can't fathom that. That is like a lake's worth of water."

The Suffolk County Water Authority says Koch's home is one of a handful -- mainly on the South Fork -- that use up 100 times more water than the average user.  

"On the East End, a lot of it has to do with golf courses and people with large lawns," says James Gaughran, who heads the Water Authority. "We urge people to do several things -- one is to try to reduce whenever they can."

Gaughran says the aquifer is plentiful, but the pipe system is stressed when a lot of homes are using water at the same time. He says it's worst in the morning when people are showering, and automatic sprinklers turn on.

"If people put their sprinklers on at midnight, that is something that will help us as well," he says. "Every drop does count."

News 12 made several attempts to contact David Koch and Koch Industries to inquire about the amount of water his South Fork home has used in just 3 months. He has not responded, but when contacted for last year's story, a spokesperson said Koch's geothermal system uses a tremendous amount of water.

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