The Rockland Water Coalition announced 24,000 Rockland residents signed petitions opposing United Water's plans to construct a $189 million desalination plant to supply the county’s drinking water. Members of the Coalition will present the petitions to local elected officials including State Senator David Carlucci and Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee on Monday in New City. According to the Coalition, it will also call on New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to oppose the plant.
The Rockland Water Coalition consists of 23 local and regional environmental and civic organizations, including Riverkeeper, Clearwater, Scenic Hudson, Rockland AARP and New York State Sierra Club. The proposed Haverstraw Water Supply Project would produce drinking water for Rockland County residents from the Hudson River and would be sited 3.5 miles downstream from the Indian Point nuclear power plant.
Numerous local officials have registered concerns and raised questions about the proposed treatment plant.
"The increased energy use and cost, the risk of overdevelopment, all run contrary to Clarkstown’s Comprehensive Plan,” said Clarkstown Councilmember Shirley 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 Orangetown Town Supervisor Andy 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 plant would provide 7.5 million gallons of water per day. On its website, United Water states, Rockland County is currently served by groundwater supplies and reservoirs. The Haverstraw Water Supply Project would improve the reliability of the water supply system while meeting future demands for water by providing a supply of water that is less dependent on climate conditions. Including a drought-tolerant river source adds to the diversity of the water supply portfolio and provides greater flexibility in managing the system.
The water coalition has been critical of the NYS Public Service Commission (PSC) mandate to expand Rockland's water supply, which it believes was based on incomplete and inaccurate information available at the time. Additionally, the coalition has stated it believes desalination would discourage water conservation, add to unsustainable overdevelopment, result in higher water rates for Rockland from increased energy and water costs, and contribute to more energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The Coalition points out there would be little longstanding economic benefit to the county as United Water's environmental impact statement predicts 10 permanent jobs will be created once the construction is completed.
The Rockland Water Coalition is urging Rockland residents to call or write Governor Cuomo's office to share their opinion on United Water's proposed desalination plant.