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County Legislator Raises Concerns About Water Issue In Rockland

tap water
William Warby, flickr

A Rockland County legislator says he is concerned that United Water New York waited too long to notify customers about a water quality problem over the summer. United Water says the water was safe, and its notification process within the law.

In July, drinking water in Rockland County turned cloudy. In other words, the water was turbid.

That’s Deb Rizzi, spokeswoman for United Water New York, which along with the Rockland County Department of Health, determined the water did not reach levels of concern to public health. United Water sent a letter to its Rockland customers August 16, apprising them of the turbidity problem from July at the Lake DeForest Water Treatment Plant in West Nyack. Rockland County Legislator Ed Day received one of the letters.

Again, Deb Rizzi.

The county health department did issue a turbidity violation, a violation that, in turn, required United Water to notify customers within 30 days pursuant to the state sanitary code. Here’s Rizzi:

And she explains the 30 days is not from the day the water turned cloudy.

Even so, Republican Legislator Day, who is running for county executive, says United Water did not do the right thing. He says company officials should have gone further than what is required by law when it comes to notification. Beyond timing, Day takes issue with the letter’s explanation of potential health effects. The letter reads that turbidity has no health effects, but can interfere with disinfection and indicate the presence of disease causing organisms. These organisms can cause symptoms in people with severely compromised immune systems, those who are pregnant, and the elderly.

Day has asked the Rockland County Legislature’s Environmental Committee to discuss the matter. He does not sit on this committee but says he has been told the issue will be put on the agenda toward the end of October. He says he’d like to accomplish the following through the committee.

United Water’s Rizzi says transparency is very important. Separately, United Water has proposed a desalination plant, a controversial project known as the Haverstraw Water Supply Project. The New York State Public Service Commission recently instituted a proceeding to examine the continuing need for the proposed plant, with public hearings scheduled in October.

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