Desalination Plant Opposition Speaks Out At Legislature

Plus a roundup of other items discussed Wednesday


Opponents of United Water’s proposed desalination plant in Haverstraw spoke out against the plant at Wednesday night’s Rockland County Legislature meeting during the public comments portion of the meeting.

There was no vote on anything relating to the desalination plant at the meeting, but the environmental committee is schedule to meet next Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. to discuss two possible resolutions relating to the plant.

Natalie Patasaw, chair of the Rockland Environmental Management Council, said there are too many uncertainties surrounding the plant for it to be allowed.

“We have too many unanswered questions regarding the real needs of such an expensive source of water supply,” she said. “Additionally, there are too many conflicting statements about the actual need for this water source above all alternatives, including conservation." 

She added that so many public comments and questions have been raised that she thinks more research is needed.

“How can we responsibly proceed without taking all of this into consideration?” she said. “If it’s rushed into service without further study and analysis, more reasonably priced alternatives will be overlooked.”

Tom O’Reilly read a statement from former legislator and retired FDNY lieutenant Bob Jackson aimed at United Water New York.

“In your mailings I have seen a photo of a burning house and another photo of a dripping fire hose nozzle,” Jackson wrote. “I have heard one of your radio commercials in which a person says, ‘What if there’s no water to put out a fire?’ I have spoken with fire officials in Rockland County and I am told that there has never been a situation in which there was not a sufficient water supply to extinguish a fire.

“For you to suggest that without a desalination plant, the firefighters in Rockland County would not have a sufficient water supply to fight fires in the future is despicable.”

The desalination plant wasn’t the only item discussed at the meeting, however. Here are some other notes from Wednesday’s meeting:

  • The legislature voted unanimously in favor of a Memorandum of Understanding between the county and all five towns for the operation of a regional investigation resource center for the period of Aug. 1, 2012 through July 31, 2013. Legislator Ed Day praised District Attorney Thomas Zugibe for his efforts. “He’s found a way to make things work in difficult times, and I think it’s important that we recognize that because that’s exactly the kind of thing we need here in order to make government work, and importantly, to make the mission of law enforcement work,” Day said. 
  • The public hearing for the 2013 county budget was set for Nov. 20 at 7:05 p.m.
  • The legislature approved an appropriation of $25,793 in funds requested by the sheriff to cover Rockland County Police Academy’s services of the director, use of force coordinator, in-service coordinator and basic school coordinator through the end of this calendar year, with funds anticipated through the collection of additional public safety fee revenue over what is currently budgeted for 2012 for the police academy.
  • The sheriff’s request for $43,200 in federal forfeiture funds was also approved. The funds will go to the police academy for lighting and equipment for the police range.
Issy October 10, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Rita, that is the point I have been making all along. Instead of ridiculous posts about UW being French and meaningless talk of reduced property values, this discussion comes down to one issue, "can we meet our future water supply". As it stands hydrologists are in the 'maybe' to 'no' camp (hardly convincing), especially in light of climate change and/or droughts and it is their opinions that counts, not real estate agents on a panel. I am all for the PSC to review and to continue to review their mandate, but at this moment we must plan for an additional water source.
Rita J October 10, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Totally agree, Issy, we must "plan" for our water future. This involves careful consideration of all the vartiables, which the DEIS does not do. Desalination of the Hudson River should be the very last alternative, when all other options are depleted. We are in a water rich region, a valley. We are not and island, desert or submarine. The good people of Rockland should not be forced to drink artificially produced water at a premium price while our fresh water flows downstream to New Jersey. And, yes, real estate values do count. People will not want to settle in Rockland to raise their families with Hudson River water coming from the tap. That is a fact. Also, you can no sooner predict drought due to "global warming" than you can floods. We will have ebbs and flow of both in years to come.
Issy October 10, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Rita, in reality we are an island in that almost all of our water comes from Rockland and considering our low replenish rate (average 16 years) our water supply is very perceptible to droughts. The desalination plant gives us an 'outside' source that is essentially drought-proof and I would suggest that this would increase our property values given the uncertainty of the affects of climate change. The outflow from Lake Deforest is governed by the size of the watershed not the flow to NJ which is protected. Any extra release (although illegal) does not affect the supply to Rockland. 20mg/day flows into Lake Deforest of which 10mg/day is earmarked for Rockland and this is not changeable. Due to the size of Lake Deforest, even if there was no extra discharge this would do nothing to change the dynamics of a potential looming water shortage which is why the extra flow to NJ is irrelevant to the PSC mandate.
Rita J October 11, 2012 at 01:48 PM
"potentally looming water shortage"? That's about as vague as it gets. Do you really think we should change the very existence of Rockland County based on a hypothetical? What the PSC and DEC have to do is establish the facts. Not the facts as provided by United Water, the real facts. And Desal, the most expensive way on earth to produce potable water, should be the very last resort after all other solutions are exhausted. We are not an island. We are a valley, surrounded by mountains with hundreds of lakes, streams and waterways. We do not have a water shortage problem, we have a water management problem and we need to think outside of the box before we force Rocklanders to drink from the Hudson. This concept is overwhelmingly rejected by Rocklanbd County residents. That, in itself, should be enough for us to be looking at other solutions. It's about the people.
Issy October 11, 2012 at 10:16 PM
We will have future droughts and there will be water shortages possibly as early as 2015 according to the PSC, so it is not a hypothetical, Please state your evidence that UW gave false facts to the PSC do you have copies of their falsehoods? Hundred of lakes streams and waterways, none of which are available to Rockland as a water source. What water management problem? The water is controlled by the DEC not UW. Where is you evidence that Rocklanders overwhelming reject the Desal Plant, do you have poll numbers? Certainly there is a vocal opposition, but that does not make them a majority.


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