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Long Island Homeowners Shocked By Skyrocketing Water Bills, Some Companies Say, 'This Wasn't A Surprise'

HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- It was a very hot, dry summer in the middle of a pandemic, but are those reasons enough for homeowners' excessive use of water?

Some water bills across Long Island have skyrocketed.

Laura and Joseph Nappi, of Huntington, are taken aback at their eye-popping water bill.

"When we got the bill, I said, oooh, water went up a lot," Laura Nappi said.

"It's three or four or five times as high, so there's something wrong someplace," Joseph Nappi said.

Across Long Island, homeowners are getting their quarterly bills from various water districts.

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The Nappis were billed for nearly 30,000 gallons this summer, up from 13,000 a year ago.

"No swimming pool, no sprinklers, two people, wash the clothes once or twice a week," Joseph Nappi said.

The South Huntington Water District has seen a tsunami of customer complaints.

"With the pandemic, people don't realize, but they were home and water usage is up. Just think about showers, bathrooms, landscaping," said Paul Tonna, chairman of the South Huntington Water District.

Pete and Jessie Nakelski called their daughter Julie Arildsen in a panic.

"They have to keep cutting back on what they decide to do," Arildsen said.

Arildsen says her parents' Suffolk County Water Authority bills are jumping every quarter.

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"This wasn't a surprise. We sent out numerous notifications," said Jeff Szabo, CEO of the SCWA.

The SCWA and others have a new conservation rate tier. Those who use the most -- more than 73,000 gallons per quarter -- pay more per gallon.

"If you exceed this threshold, your water bill will go up," Szabo said.

That affects 25% of their customers.

Arildsen's parents aren't in the high-use category and are on a fixed income.

"Worrisome because I need to know they can take care of themselves," she said.

The water companies pledge to review bills with complaining customers, send technicians to inspect and test meters, and suggest homeowners have plumbers check for leaks.

Multiple water districts say they are installing new electric smart meters, which make meter reading easy for homeowners and more reliable for the companies.


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