For a little less than a year, has had a pilot project in West Haverstraw, where water from the Hudson River is being tested, treated and tested again to see if the Hudson River could be used as a longterm water source in Rockland County.
So far, United Water’s findings are that the Hudson River will work out nicely for the county.
“The water quality is better than the quality of water that Rocklanders are consuming today,” said Steven Goudsmith, manager of communications and community relations for the United Water New York Division.
The pilot will continue through December, possibly later, because United Water wants more data about how the water will react with the chemicals used to treat the water in cold temperatures. United Water is conducting the tests as a lead-in to the Haverstaw Water Supply Project, United Water’s answer to the question of how Rockland will meet its expected longterm water supply needs.
Rockland’s population grew by 8.7 percent from the 2000 to the 2010 United States Census. Goudsmith said the population is expected to increase, which could lead to a water supply problem for the county in 2016. United Water provides water to all of Rockland except Nyack, Suffern and those properties with private wells.
Goudsmith said right now Rockland’s water supply comes mostly from groundwater - about 70 percent of it, and the other 30 percent comes from surface water. United Water Haverstraw Water Supply Project Manager Sameet Master said when looking into potential longterm water supply options, United Water narrowed in on what it saw as the three best options.
The first option was take more surface water, or just increase the areas that hold the surface water, such as Lake DeForest. Master said you can’t really make it bigger, and so you can only bring so much more water into Lake DeForest. The next option was to build a completely new reservoir, which he said was in the works with the Ambrey Pond Reservoir, which was to go in Stony Point. Master said that didn’t end up happening because it was more expensive, as they would not only have to build the reservoir, but also widen roads to get all the construction vehicles to the area to actually build it.
So that left recycling water from the Hudson River. Master said not only is the water itself in better quality than they were expecting when it comes in from the Hudson, but once it’s gone through United Water’s nine-step process, it’s coming out better than the quality of the water that’s going out now. A chart of the full results on their tests can be found on United Water's website. Master said that 14 other communities get their water from the Hudson, but should Rockland it would have to do something none of the others do.
“The most unique thing about us is we have to desalinate,” Master said, referencing the process that removes salt, organic compounds and more from water.
Rockland would have to do this while the other communities don’t because Rockland is closer to the ocean.
The plant would be located in Haverstaw, within five miles of Indian Point Energy Center, which has many Rockland residents opposed to the project. Master said the Haverstraw plant wouldn’t be the first to be in close quarters with a power plant, and that since what they share is a major body of water, United Water’s findings haven’t indicated there is anything potentially harmful in the water.
If there should be a problem with Indian Point contaminating the Hudson, Master said the plant would shut down for however long and they have other methods planned for getting water out. The plant will store some water, and then Master added they could go to more short term water supply uses until they are able to use the Hudson again.
Another thing the opposition has wondered is would the plant be necessary if Rockland conserved water, but Goudsmith said Rockland already conserves water very well. He said that Rockland uses 66 and a half gallons per person per day, well under the national average of between 90-100 gallons per person per day.
“We’re not going to meet our demands going forward just by conserving more,” Goudsmith said.
Master added that if they ask people to conserve more water, they’re “getting significantly into behavior and making big lifestyle changes.”
He added United Water can’t tell people to conserve water, but they do promote water conservation and tell people to try and conserve as much as possible.
A few groups have popped up for a variety of reasons, including its location, which Master said was picked because it was the only location in the county that could house the plant. Goudsmith said they’ve had interactions with those opposed to the project, and have invited them to come tour the plant and talk about their concerns. He said some groups have taken him up on his offer, and others haven’t.
“We’re happy to meet with anybody to talk about the project,” Goudsmith said. “If they want to come in and tour the plant here, or just sit down and talk about it, we’re happy to do that.”
The plant in West Haverstraw is having an open house for people to go tour it on Saturday Sept. 17, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. No reservation or anything is needed, you can just show up, Goudsmith said.