Water, water everywhere… but not a drop to drink?

Posted by on Jun 28, 2011 | 1 comment

  • County Executive Vanderhoef declares flooding “State of Emergency” for Rockland County
  • Environmentalists call for a water resource plan

by: George Potanovic, Jr.

After a flooding “State of Emergency” being issued by the Rockland County Executive’s office last week, we must ask ourselves the question – does Rockland County actually have a water shortage?

On Tuesday, June 21, about 50 county planning officials and the public heard Paul Heisig, a hydrologist with the US Geological Survey, present the findings of the Rockland County Water – Resource Assessment -a 5-year study. funded by the County of Rockland, The NYS DEC and United Water, that evaluated demand and supply of drinking water. About a dozen members and partners of the Rockland County Water Coalition also attended the presentation. The USGS study suggests that Rockland County has adequate water to meet current demand, but could experience difficulty meeting peak demand in summer months, when outdoor lawn watering becomes a significant factor. The report also indicates that Rockland can improve water conservation and management of its water resources instead of allowing some 14-billon galllons of water to be dumped back into the Hudson River each year and not retaining that water in Rockland to recharge the aquifers. Currently, after a heavy rainstorm, storm water is quickly channeled directly into storm drains and streams that become overburdened. This causes mass erosion and flooding – resulting in tremendous property damage for homeowners and businesses and a tremendous lost water resource each year. The USGS report considers this lost water as a “wasted resource.”

Jonathan Hyman, a consultant to ROSA (Ramapo Organized for Sustainability and a Safe Aquifer) and Director, The Public Forum Group, who attended the Tuesday’s planer’s meeting said, “Paul Heisig’s report was conceptually sound and easy to understand. I was impressed that in addition to the science he presented, he pointed out that the planning and zoning officials of the Town’s and Villages of Rockland County also need to consider ‘stewardship’ of the land and ancillary resources such as wetlands and riparian buffers as they confront the County’s aquifer and water issues.” ROSA currently has law suits pending against the 500- multiple family Patrick Farm development planned for Route 202 near Route 306, which lies above the sole source aquifer that supplies water to a vast area of the Lower Hudson Valley (NY) as well as the northern parts of New Jersey.

Water Coalition members want Joint Proposal reexamined – Water Rate Case reopened
– Rockland water study indicates waste and improved water conservation methods are available

Environmental and civic groups from the Rockland County Water Coalition are asking the Rockland County Legislature to further examine the real environmental and economic costs of the proposed United Water Desalination Plant on the Hudson River and to petition the Public Service Commission to reopen the Joint Proposal Agreement of 2006 – a legal agreement which determined that Rockland County needed to expand its drinking water supply, resulting in the United Water Company proposal to construct a desalination plant along the shores of the Hudson at Havertsraw Bay. Many environmentalists are questioning whether water conservation was adequately considered in the agreement. The Hudson RIver Desalination Plant would produce 7.5 mgd (million of gallons per day), primarily for peak summer demand. It would also result in increased hidden costs to Rockland rate payers and tax payers, intensive energy use, adverse impacts on Haverstraw Bay fish life and potential health issues. USGS Rockland County Water – Resource Assessment shows that our water sources are stressed but they are not on the downward trend as previously thought. However, Rockland County needs to act on sustainable land use planning practices, including grey water reuse and better management of all our water resources within Rockland. In addition, we need much closer accountability for the actual amount of water being sent from Lake DeForest to New Jersey each year.

The County Legislature has included a Rockland County Water Conservation & Management Policy goal in the recently approved Rockland County Comprehensive Plan, but several groups want to see the legislators take action now to implement this into county law and policy. “We are looking to the county to develop a legal framework that would require Rockland development to be sustainable concerning our water resources and not a knee-jerk reaction to builders who demand more and more development without considering the eventual costs to Rockland taxpayers for water, roads, schools and services. Without improved land use planning at the town and village level and a sensible county water conservation and management policy, Rockland is destined to lose its quality of life and accept the eventual environmental and economic burden of overdevelopment. Water is a shared resource and it is about time that we all recognize our collective responsibility to protect it,” says George Potanovic, Jr., president of the Stony Point Action Committee for the Environment (SPACE) and a founding member of the Rockland Water Coalition.

For more information about the Rockland County Water Coalition call 845-429-2020

To help or get more involved with Rockland water issues, please e-mail: RocklandWater@gmail.com

The writer is a Stony Point resident, president of the Stony Point Action Committee Environment, member of the Rockland Coalition for Sustainable Water and a professional photographer whose subjects include scenes from Rockland and the Hudson Valley.

One Comment

  1. Ya so much true…for the thing you have every where still need to pay for its use.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *