SOUTH FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It’s called Long Island’s greatest natural resource — water.

Now, there’s a big push to stop the waste as usage skyrockets.

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Michael and Diane Papa love their landscaping and lawn.

“I like to keep my lawn green, you know, the nitrogen business, and I do water when I’m supposed to, within compliance,” Michael Papa told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.

They are aware that during the pandemic, New York state residents used 28% more water at home because of more showering, laundry, washing hands and flushing toilets.

“I’m careful with the water, not keeping it on and running, and I think we are careful with watering the lawn,” Diane Papa said.

Now, the Long Island Water Conference is alerting residents that May to September water usage is expected to triple.

“Seventy-five percent of water usage really is irrigation, and we can see that in our bills,” said Andrew Bader, with the Long Island Water Conference.

A long-term effort is being launched to save water, save money and save Long Island’s sole source aquifer.

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“Smart controllers are probably the best thing that has come along in our industry to help conserve water,” said Michael Dwyer, with the Irrigation Association of New York.

Homeowners can install weather system remote sensors. The smart technology includes sprinkler apps showing water and money saved because it rained.

Long Island has 48 water districts. Most will offer rebates or refunds for smart controller technology, which can cost $100-300 before installation.

“These customers are seeing real savings up to 30 percent,” said Lynda Dimenna, with New York American Water. “That savings going back to the environment, as well as in your pocketbook.”

Environmentalists boast smart technology can pay for itself in one year, slowing the need for constant infrastructure improvements among Long Island’s 13,000 public water supply wells.

“The bigger price to pay is the increased strain on our aquifer which affects water quality,” said Ty Fuller, with the Suffolk County Water Authority.

That sole source aquifer system provides 100% of Long Island’s drinking water, which must be preserved and protected.

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In many communities, lawn watering is banned from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Advocates are urging those without sensors to water every other day at most.

Jennifer McLogan