Don't let United Water raise rates to pay for unneeded treatment plant

Posted by on May 5, 2010 | 1 comment

Talk about bad timing, foot-in-mouth disease and blatant greed.

A Public Service Commission comment session is scheduled, on Earth Day, to discuss United Water’s request for a 21 percent hike in our Rockland water bills.

Much of that is for us to start paying in advance for an added water supply, most likely an unneeded, generally unwanted and environmentally hazardous desalination plant, so that water from the Hudson River can be piped into our drinking glasses.

The article was published a day after extensive, road-closing flooding, which occurred amid the heaviest March rainfall on record.

It also was a day after publication of a letter to the editor, “DeForest can’t meet area’s water needs,” which asserted that United Water cannot get any more water “safely” from the Lake DeForest reservoir in West Nyack.

Published with the letter was a nice picture of Lake DeForest, enhancing the general misconception that this reservoir is the major source of our water supply.

We seldom see any of our underground water sources, but according to an analysis by scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, 78 percent of Rockland’s water supply comes from wells.

Perhaps the biggest long-term threat to the quantity and purity of our essential, nature-given underground water is the planning by United Water to accommodate and foster major new development and population growth.

This will certainly enhance United Water’s profits, but if the county becomes mostly impermeable roofs and blacktop, how could our precious underground aquifers do their economical, natural job of rain and snow melt filtration and purification, refilling themselves as they reduce flooding? Aquifer pollution could be a catastrophe.

As the county fills up, developers push more and more to build near streams, wetlands and ponding areas, the very places that are especially important for aquifer replenishment, i.e. the contentious Patrick Farm tract in Ramapo.

United Water has repeatedly put out statements about estimated future demand for more water.

However, this demand should be sharply separated from actual needs and wants.

Regarding the desire for growth as “progress,” what has this growth done for East Ramapo and Yonkers?

How far do we want to go with traffic congestion, air pollution, overcrowded schools, crime and skyrocketing taxes to try to fix these things?

Rockland County’s population size seems to be in a good balance with water availability, with no drought since 2002.

Never-ending growth is not inevitable. It is impossible. We can have a better quality of life and retain a sense of shared community by cooperatively living in a sustainable balance with nature.

The choice we make now can shape the lives of ourselves, our children and grandchildren far into the future.

Let’s urge Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef, Rockland County Legislature Chair Harriet Cornell, our other legislators and town supervisors to work against a water treatment plant and any rate increase to pay for it.

We can also oppose the 21 percent water-rate increase at the state Public Service Commission’s public hearings on United Water New York’s request. Comment can be submitted to the PSC until May 15th.

One Comment

  1. 21 percent water-rate increase that is not acceptable at all.

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