A better way to hydrate
SCWA chief executive officer Jeff Szabo and supervisor Angie Carpenter at the unveiling of the first hydration station, which is located inside Islip Town Hall.

Photo provided by Islip Town

A better way to hydrate

Story By: LIZ FINNEGAN
9/21/2017


SUFFOLK COUNTY—Earlier this month, the Suffolk County Water Authority unveiled a new program at Islip Town Hall that will soon be brought to other locations in Suffolk County: hydration stations. The device, which fits over existing water fountains, makes it easier to fill recyclable water bottles while on the go. SCWA says they hope the new program will reduce the number of wasteful plastic water bottles and raise public awareness about the fine quality of Suffolk County water.

Jeffrey W. Szabo, SCWA chief executive officer, said SCWA board member Patrick Halpin first raised the the idea for the program. Szabo said the former county executive suggested a partnership with various towns across the county since town halls are usually high-traffic areas. 

“We reached out to all of the towns in our service area and most of them responded positively,” Szabo noted. Islip was the first to respond. Hydration stations will also be going into Brookhaven Town Hall in the near future.

In this collaboration, SCWA – a not-for-profit independent public-benefit corporation – provides the $900 hydration station at each location, including filters. And as with Islip Town, each new initiative will be accompanied by a limited amount of reusable stainless steel bottles to kick off the program. The towns where they will be located are responsible for the installation, maintenance and electricity to run the device. 

At the hydration station, which is located on the first floor of Islip Town Hall, supervisor Angie Carpenter said, “We are so thankful to the Suffolk County Water Authority for partnering with the Town of Islip and our employees. We encourage and promote sustainability within the Town of Islip, and hope that we can lead by example.”

Szabo said he is proud to partner with Carpenter on this new program and hopes that everyone who utilizes it will be reminded of the high-quality drinking water the agency provides.

 “SCWA maintains internal standards for water quality that are more rigorous than standards set by state and federal regulators, and we also conduct drinking water tests on nearly 250 more contaminants than required by law,” Szabo said. “Our drinking water is one of the best in the nation and we are very proud of it.” He also noted that Carpenter put in a request to have another hydration station placed on the second floor of Town Hall near the board room.

Though the initiative is now limited to town halls, Szabo indicated it could eventually be expanded to libraries and maybe even public schools.

“We haven’t taken the next step yet, but that’s something we can take into consideration,” he said.

In an effort to educate their consumers on this vital resource and how to protect it, SCWA will host a symposium on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. at the West Islip Senior Citizen’s Center, located on Higbie Lane. The program will feature a panel of SCWA water quality experts that will provide information and answer any questions and concerns regarding drinking water. This program is free and open to the general public.