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USGS Completes 5-Year Study of Rockland's Water Supply

Analysis expected to help local officials make decisions about county's future.

The U.S. Geological Survey has completed a five-year study that looks at Rockland County’s water resources, taking a close look at the underground geological formations that contain much of the supply that is used by Rockland residents for drinking water.

“This report represents the most comprehensive evaluation of Rockland’s water resources in over five decades,” Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef said today. “It will be very helpful in assisting the Rockland County, along with our water suppliers, in making the best use of our available resources, and making more informed decisions about planning for the future.” 

The evaluation performed through an agreement between the USGS, Rockland County and the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation in response to concerns by county officials and local environmentalists about the fractured bedrock that provides approximately one third of Rockland County’s water supply.

The study looks at Rockland’s population growth — now at nearly 300,000 — and increasing demands for water, especially from peak periods each year in May through October.

The USGS study defines the hydrogeologic framework and conditions within the existing aquifer, as well as identifying other potential sources of water for Rockland County:

  1. Increased Pumpage from the Bedrock Aquifer is possible in areas of the aquifer that are not currently tapped for public supply. Individual well yields would likely be lower than those of most current supply wells.
  2. Ambrey Pond Reservoir has been proposed in the northern part of the county. It would draw surface water from Highlands area drainages, including Lake Tiorati.
  3. Stormwater retention / reuse. Retention, treatment, and transfer of stormwater from key drainages in the county is a potential means of retaining water lost to impervious surfaces.
  4. Increase Flow Augmentation to the Ramapo River through releases from the Stony Brook watershed. This would help maintain pumping capacity of the Ramapo Valley Wellfield. Storage of excess streamflow in an impoundment could be released to the Ramapo River during dry periods.
  5. Desalinization of Water from the Hudson River. The Hudson River represents a continuous source of brackish water that could be treated to provide a source of freshwater.
  6. Indirect Use of Recycled Water - 14.7 billion gallons of treated wastewater was available to Rockland County in 2005 - more than total water use that year. Diversion of at least part of that water, highly treated with further natural treatment in wetlands or surface waters prior to joining drinking water supplies, offers a continuous source of freshwater for local and regional water needs.

The report comes as United Water Co., which supplies water to much of Rockland County, is in the process of seeking state approval for a plant in Haverstraw that will allow it to use water from the Hudson River to boost the area's drinking water supply.

The report can be viewed at www.rocklandgov.com and selecting the USGS icon on the right of the page.

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