'Drinking Water Week,' which runs through May 12, got its start 30 years ago with the objective of getting communities to recognize the vital role water plays in daily lives. The Rockland Water Coalition sees this observance as an opportune time to revisit the importance of Rockland County's water resources in light of United Water's proposed. The Coalition supports the development of a Rockland County Water Policy and opposes the desal plant.
The Coalition in partnership with the Citizens Campaign for the Environment has collected nearly 20,000 petition signatures from Rockland residents opposed to the proposed desal plant and supportive of more sustainable alternatives for financial, environmental and health reason said Coalition Member George Potanovic. He said the collection of signature on paper and online petitions continues even though the public comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project to treat Hudson River water ended on April 20.
“We’re going to deliver them to the governor’s office,” Potanovic. “We’re still collecting signatures in opposition to the plant and in support of the alternatives.”
He said each county legislator has received more than 100 letters from opponents of the water treatment plant.
Rockland Legislators Harriet Cornell and Alden Wolfe submitted documents during the public comment period that disputed United Water’s claim it had considered other water supply options before proposing the desal plant.
“To begin with, United Water argues that sufficient water supply is lacking for the future of Rockland. Many have challenged that argument, pointing to, among other proofs, the incredible release of water from Rockland County to New Jersey,” wrote Wolfe.
“I recommend that NYSDEC carefully scrutinize all the alternative options, including those in chapter 18, which were were dismissed as not producing a safe yield, and require United Water to put together a plan that could increase the supply of water by combining some alternative actions, while giving conservation efforts three to four years to effectuate water savings,” wrote Cornell.
Potanovic said the Coalition believes a majority of Rockland residents are not in favor of United Water's plans to construct a desalination plant on the Hudson River for drinking water. The Coalition stresses the importance of a water conservation policy, better protection of drinking water resources, more effective coordination and enforcement of storm water management regulations to prevent flooding and loss of valuable water resources. It explained its opposition in a statement.
Not only will the proposed plant be costly to consumers, damaging to the river’s ecology and the area’s general environmental condition—it will undercut simple and effective approaches to better utilize water sources. The concerned citizens of the Rockland Water Coalition are promoting better conservation of groundwater and reservoirs as well as development practices that help recharge aquifers rather than producing run-off that contributes to flooding and increased storm water treatment.
“There needs to be a more comprehensive look at how we handle existing water supply,” said Potanovic.