Environment

Applicants in Riverhead sought for water conservation incentive program

Riverhead Town residents and businesses are being sought to apply for a water conservation incentive program run by Peconic Green Growth, an organization that aims to preserve and enhance natural resources through sustainability.

Recipients will receive rebates for items such as rain sensors, indoor fixtures certified by the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program and smart irrigation controllers. The recipients will agree to install their devices within three weeks of receipt of the rebate or item and allow PGG to access water usage data to measure the impacts of the upgrade.

Glynis Berry, executive director of PGG, discussed the program with the Riverhead Town Board at last Thursday’s work session. She said PGG received a grant from the Long Island Community Foundation and the money needs to be spent by the end of the year. There are three $5,000 programs the grant money will be divided between, including the water conservation incentive program. The deadline for the application, which can be obtained by emailing [email protected], is Nov. 16. Applications can also be obtained in person at Riverhead Town Hall.

Incentives include:

• Free rainwater sensor (about 40 will be available on a first-come, first-served basis)

• $50 rebate for a smart irrigation controller

• $50-$100 rebate for a WaterSense toilet

• $20 rebate for EPA-compliant shower heads

• Free bathroom sink aerator

• Free water conservation audit for business

“They would agree to allow us to use their water use records so in the future we can track the impact on any improvements that are made,” Ms. Berry said. “It’s open to anyone in the Town of Riverhead.”

In a press release, PGG said applications for internal fixtures will be evaluated for impact and then drawn from a lottery of those with the highest impact followed by others. The average residential daily consumption of water in Riverhead Town is 370 gallons per household, PGG said, and use surges in the summer to an average of 750 gallons per day. That figure has climbed even higher during this year (956 gallons per day) amid the pandemic.

“The Riverhead Water District is committed to supplying adequate and quality water to our residents,” said Frank Mancini, Riverhead Water District superintendent in a statement. “We support all water conservation efforts and advocate for the most efficient use of our water resources.”

Ms. Berry said one portion of the grant money will be used in partnership with the Riverhead Central School District to add smart controllers and rain sensors. The other portion is specific to Pulaski Street School, which is the best at retaining rainwater for reuse, Mr. Berry said.

“The school system is very interested in using both programs as an educational tool,” she said. “There are some high school students that may be able take this further the following year using it for research and they may be able to help with the conservation idea by taking it to their homes as well.”

Mark Haubner of the North Fork Environmental Council said the pilot programs could be replicated and scaled up.

“I would be very excited to move this into our municipal buildings as a showcase of how to reduce the amount of water that’s running off and running into our surface water, bays and creeks.”