Members of the public get their opportunity this afternoon and evening to express their opinions about the proposed to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). United Water proposed construction of the plant, which would treat Hudson River water to make it potable in order to meet Rockland County’s growing water needs. Speakers will comment on the 4,000-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), which the DEC accepted as complete in January.
The public hearings, conducted by DEC Administrative Law Judge Helene Goldberger could run from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to midnight at Haverstraw Town Hall. DEC Spokesperson Wendy Rosenbach said previous public hearings have gone until midnight. She said they cannot make a determination of how much time each speaker may have until people actually arrive at the public hearing and sign in. Rosenbach said speakers could be allotted three to five minutes, depending upon the turnout.
In December 2006 and again in July 2010, the state Public Service Commission issued an order requiring United Water to increase the average daily supply by 1.5 million gallons by the end of 2015. According to the DEC, United Water is compelled to build and operate a long-term major water supply project to meet the county’s needs beyond 2015. United Water proposed the Hudson River desalination plant to meet that obligation.
As described on the DEC website the proposed Haverstraw Water Treatment Plant would consist of three main parts: the water intake structure, onshore pumping station and water treatment plant. The water intake structure would be located in Haverstraw Bay on the Hudson River. The intake pumping station and raw water transmission main would pump water drawn from the Hudson River to the water treatment plant. The plant would consist of interconnected buildings housing equipment needed for the multi-step water treatment process and finished water storage.
Prior to the start of the public hearing, Rockland County and local government officials plan to join members of the Rockland Water Coalition at a 1:30 p.m. press conference in front of Haverstraw Town Hall.
Expected participants include: Former Rockland County Legislator Connie Coker; Rockland Water Coalition member and SPACE President George Potanovic, Jr.; Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart; Clarkstown Councilwoman Shirley Lasker; Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Environmental Director Manna Jo Greene; Hudson River Fishermen's Association Director of Environmental Affairs Gil Hawkins, Citizen's Campaign for the Environment Hudson Valley Program Coordinator Jordan Christensen and Eric Weltman, of Food & Water Watch.
"The increased energy use and cost, the risk of overdevelopment, all run contrary to Clarkstown’s Comprehensive Plan,” stated Lasker. “In addition, I have safety and health concerns with a plant within 3.4 miles of Indian Point. There are more cost effective, and environmentally friendly methods to increase Rockland County's water supply and those should be implemented first."
"If we're going to invest in filtering polluted water to make it drinkable, let's start with fixing up our aging sewage treatment infrastructure and sell to United Water some of the 14 billion gallons per year we're dumping into the Hudson River,” said Stewart. “I'd like to know - can advanced waste water treatment technology, such as is in use today on the Ramapo River, be implemented on the Hackensack River to augment water supplies for New Jersey while preserving Lake DeForest for local use and flood prevention?"
The Rockland Water Coalition, a partnership of 15 Rockland-based community organizations, has criticized the proposed plant and described it as wasteful, expensive and unnecessary. It has launched an online petition.
The Coalition opposes the proposed plant and has stated that:
- reverse osmosis and desalination are energy intensive and expensive means of producing drinking water
- water rates for residents and businesses would rise significantly
- increased taxes would be needed for infrastructure and sewer expansion
- an irreplaceable habitat on the Hudson River estuary would be threatened.
United Water states laboratory results show water from the Hudson, after being purified at the pilot facility, is as good as or better than the quality of water that is being delivered to Rocklanders' faucets now. IBEW 363 supported issued a statement supporting construction of the water treatment plant.
The Rockland Water Coalition also claims United Water has sent excess water releases to New Jersey from Rockland's Lake DeForest Reservoir. If the plant is constructed, there are concerns that United Water will send even more fresh water across the state line and shift higher costs to Rockland residents and businesses.
“Not allowing United Water to send excessive amounts of Rockland’s water to New Jersey would go a long way toward ensuring that Rockland has enough water,” says Bob Dillon, a member of Rockland Residents Against Flooding Tomorrow (RAFT) and associate member of the County of Rockland Water Quality Committee.
The coalition called upon the county executive and Legislature to determine the environmental impacts and costs of United Water's plan for Rockland taxpayers.
The DEC will also accept written comments about the proposed desalination plant until April 20, 2012. They should be addressed to:
NYS DEC - Division of Environmental Permits
625 Broadway, 4th Floor,
Albany, NY 12233-1750,
Phone: (518) 402-9167, Fax: (518) 402-9168,