In 2011 the USGS (US Geological Survey) published the Rockland County 5-year ground water study, conducted by Paul Heisig, hydrologist. The study announced that there is “no downward trend” in ground water and that aquifer recharge was significantly more than had been imagined.
The report also points to summer water use as being the primary water usage issue. Most significantly, the report states that 14.6 million gallons of fresh water are lost every year as discharge to the Hudson River. See the study: USGS Rockland County Water – Resource Assessment.
While the groundwater study was underway the United Water desalination plan was proposed and the pilot plant was approved and built. This desalination plan was rolled forward with insufficient knowledge of the county’s groundwater resources. Based upon this factor and also the increase of water in the system from retaining the volume of water that United Water was formerly releasing to New Jersey, there is no true water shortage or need. Additional water supply is being called for at this time to pave the way for ‘unconstrained’ development.
With this new information there has been a call for county officials to request the Public Service Commission to reopen the rate case that mandated United Water to seek additional water supply. Taking a fresh look at the numbers is critical in order to calculate a truer picture of the water resources. The numbers support the idea that growth can be sustainably supported by the existing volume of water if integrated water management measures are put into practice. Costly, energy intensive desalination is NOT the answer.
Summary of Results from the USGS Water-Resource Investigation of Rockland County, New York, 2005-2007:
“Review of pumpage and water-level data from the bedrock aquifer back to 1989 suggests that there has not been a continuous downward trend in groundwater levels across the aquifer.”