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NYS PSC Looks Into Need For Rockland Water Supply Project

tap water
William Warby, flickr

The New York State Public Service Commission is revisiting whether the underlying need for water in Rockland County warrants the construction of a major water supply project. 

The Public Service Commission has instituted a proceeding to examine the continuing need for United Water New York’s proposed development of a more than $120 million desalination plant. The project is known as the Haverstraw Water Supply Project, and came about after the PSC issued an order in 2006 to United Water to develop a plan to meet Rockland County’s long-term water supply needs. The proceeding, according to the PSC chairman, comes in light of recent requests to update the assessment of the underlying need. State Senator David Carlucci, an Independent Democrat from Rockland, commends the PSC’s action.

Calls to United Water were not returned in time for this broadcast. Previously, a spokesman said that alternatives to desalination were either too costly, undependable, and/or environmentally unfriendly, and that desalinating water from the Hudson River made the most sense, though it is not yet clear what changes in water-supply need may be perceived by the company.

Hayley Carlock is an advocacy attorney for Poughkeepsie-based environmental group Scenic Hudson.

To begin the proceeding, the PSC has directed United Water to file within 30 days of the order a report containing the most recent information in relation to projected demand and need to secure a new water supply source in Rockland; respond to concerns and issues raised by public officials and organizations; and present any other relevant information. The PSC also will provide a public comment period and conduct hearings. Here’s Carlucci.

Scenic Hudson’s Carlock talks about some of the new pieces of information since 2006.

She says there is also new information regarding untapped potential for conservation and efficiency, as well as new analysis via a 2011 study from the U.S. Geological Survey concluding that Rockland’s groundwater resources are healthier than thought and aquifers are recharging more quickly. Carlucci had recently called on state officials to look into the need for a desalination plant.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation, meanwhile, is reviewing permit applications regarding the proposed plant. United Water New York is a private company that provides about 87 percent of Rockland County’s drinking water, with the exception of three villages. The company also services a small portion of Orange County.

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