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UWNY: Rockland County Needs More Water

by Michael J. Pointing, vice president and general manager of United Water New York

The need for a new long-term water supply in Rockland County is well-established. As total demand on the system continues to increase, additional water is needed for residents, businesses and fire suppression. That is why the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) has ordered United Water to develop a new long-term supply. In fact, the need is so urgent that Dr. Daniel M. Miller, head of the water supply bureau of the Rockland County Department of Health, stated in sworn testimony before the Public Service Commission that:

‘€œThe time for study is over. Rockland County needs additional supply. Reconsideration of the proposed alternatives based on current technological advances, permitting issues and costs should be limited to an exceedingly short time period, and construction of the selected major supply project should commence post haste.’€

While Rockland’s conservation efforts have been impressive, the wise use of water alone will not provide us with enough going forward. Similarly, existing supplies are limited. Lake DeForest, for example, is bound by safe yield regulations that will not permit any more water to be safely drawn from the reservoir.

Studied by the Experts

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has thoroughly studied our project. Its experts on water supply and the environment have determined that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is complete and issued draft permits, indicating that the project conforms to all applicable state regulations.
Since 2010, we have operated a test facility in West Haverstraw to refine the purification process. The process includes reverse osmosis to purify Hudson River water. It’s the same technology used by the U.S. armed forces, major cruise lines and bottled water companies. It’s even used commercially to purify water for infants. In fact, reverse osmosis is used to purify drinking water for millions of people around the world every day. That includes communities as close by as New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Here in Rockland, a test facility has used reverse osmosis to purify 40 million gallons of water. Independent certified labs have analyzed nearly 10,000 water samples. These findings were reviewed by the DEC and Department of Health. I’m proud to say the results are excellent.

A panel of academic and industry professionals met to review the purification process. It was headed by Dr. Joe Jacangelo, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. He has over 27 years experience in water treatment and membrane technology. Other panel members are experts in drinking water purification, compliance and public health. The panel includes a professor from the University of Massachusetts and experts from Tampa Bay Water, FL and East Bay Municipal Utility District, CA. Two members also serve on the U.S. EPA Science Advisory Board Drinking Water Committee.

The panel reported that the ‘€œproposed purification processes will provide a very high quality and safe drinking water for the residents of Rockland County.’€

Environmentally Sensitive and Cost-Effective

Since the initial design of the project, we have taken further, important steps to protect the environment. We will use wedge wire screens with a 0.5mm opening proven to protect aquatic life. To further mitigate impacts to the river, we proposed a new intake location that is considered previously disturbed.

We recognize that we must not only deliver excellent water quality and strive to protect the environment, but we also have a fiduciary responsibility to our customers. This project will cost about half that of others to construct and less to operate.

The Best All-Around Solution

As the 90-day public review period for the Haverstraw Water Supply Project comes to a close, I would like to thank members of the public who took the time to appear at the two public hearings or who have submitted their comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

As we continue our efforts to bring the Haverstraw Water Supply Project online, you can be sure it has passed rigorous expert standards. When you pour a glass of water, you will know it is pure and healthy– just like the water that we have delivered to families and businesses like yours for over 100 years. It is environmentally sensitive. It will cost far less than the viable alternatives. It is the best all-around solution for meeting Rockland’s growing water needs.

Michael J. Pointing is vice president and general manager for United Water New York.

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