An international water expert hired by the Rockland Water
Coalition released a study on Tuesday stating viable water supply alternatives exist
to meet the 2006 state mandate for an additional 7.5 million gallons daily.
Albert Appleton, former New York City Department of Environmental Protection commissioner and New York City Water & Sewer System director, evaluated four issues directly related to United Water’s proposed Hudson River desalination plant in his 32-page report.
Appleton identified the four areas as the demand and need for water in Rockland, alternatives to the proposed desal plant, impact of the plant cost on water consumption and necessity of due diligence.
Appleton, who will present his report at next week’s Public Service Commission’s (PSC) Public Hearings on the proposed Hudson River Water Treatment Plant, said United Water followed the outdated supply side strategy of planning to build a new facility instead of looking at ways to conserve water within the existing system.
Appleton emphasized that water usage has decreased over the past five years and is short of the demands the PSC projected when it order a new water source for Rockland. He said that presents an opportunity for thoroughly studying the situation.
“This means first, that there is time to systematically address the issue, both the question of need and alternatives to it and second, that a new analysis of future demand should be carried out,” he said
Appleton, who spoke at a press conference led by county Legislative Chair Harriet Cornell, said the county can get more water from the Lake DeForest Reservoir and that even more water can be conserved by educating consumers.
Appleton said if consumes are forced to pay the estimated $150 million cost of the desalination plant, their response could be to cut back on usage to lower their bills.
“(The) Result is for you build this plant, you eliminate the need for it,” he said, noting Rockland already has well above national average water rates.
Hudson Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay described the plant as “a solution for a problem that does not exist.”
Cornell criticized the PSC for not being response to the four towns and 12 villages that requested an Issues Conference. She said county officials are pushing ahead with efforts to get the state to seriously assess the situation.
County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef sent the state Department of Environmental Conservation a letter asking that the terms of usage of Lake DeForest’s water by New York and New Jersey be reviewed. The agreement ends today and is being renegotiated.
Cornell said she will tell the PSC the county is convening a task force to develop a short and long term water plans and will invite United Water to join along with government officials and environmental group representatives.
Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee announced she is developing legislation that would require utilities to research a demand side solution before a supply side approach can be considered. The county legislature’s Environmental Committee is working on non-emergency water restrictions to encourage conservation.
The PSC Public Hearings are Tuesday, Oct. 1 at Clarkstown South High School in West Nyack at 6 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 2 at Haverstraw Elementary School in Haverstraw at 6 p.m.