Rockland County executive candidate and former Spring Valley Justice David Fried thinks the creation of a water district could help protect water within the county’s boundaries and help with Rockland’s fiscal crisis.
“It is time for county government to protect our water and our wallets,” said Fried. “Whether today on desalination or tomorrow on future water questions, Rockland will always face powerful interests far beyond its borders. We need the legal authority to stand up, defend our community’s resources, and have effective influence.”
In a statement released Monday, the Democratic candidate said Rockland lacks the authority make its own decisions about its water. He said those actions are now outside the county and typically in the hands of the New York State Public Service Commission and the Department of Environmental Conservation, which advise the county on the environmental impacts of projects.
“The waters of New York belong to the people and are held in trust for us by the government,” Fried stated. “United Water owns reservoirs, pipes, and pumps, but they do not own the water.”
Fried said if he were elected, he would appoint a panel to explore why Rockland does not have a water district. He said representatives from the Rockland Water Coalition, Riverkeeper and Sierra Club would be invited to participate. Additionally, he called upon current County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef to participate in upcoming water contract negotiations.
“Next September, the water-sharing contract with Bergen County is up for renewal,” said Fried. “Respected environmental leaders have said that United Water sends more water to Bergen than contracted, contributing to the water shortage United Water claims as a justification for desalination.”
Fried said action must be taken if United Water is found to be sending more supply to Bergen County than permitted.
“Severe penalties must be imposed for illegal water delivery to Bergen,” he said.
Fried reiterated his opposition to United Water’s desalination plant proposal because he believes incomplete data was used and voiced his support for Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee's efforts to reopen the case.
Fried said he would consolidate all county water functions into one office including the Health Department’s Division of Environmental Health, Drainage Agency, Water Supply Bureau, Water Quality Management, Water Board, and Soil & Water Conservation District to bring greater efficiencies.
“These actions will sustain our community, defend what is rightfully ours, and help repair the County’s financial crisis,” concluded Fried.
There are three other candidates seeking the office. The other Democrats for county executive are Legislator Ilan Schoenberger and Suffern Mayor Dagan Lacorte. Legislator Ed Day is the Republican candidate.