Hours of testimony at the recent Public Service Commission (PSC) hearings should put the brakes on the United Water desalination proposal.
In two long hearings (Tuesday Oct. 1 until 2 a.m., and Wednesday, Oct. 2 until 12 a.m.) nearly every person in the stream of speakers spoke in opposition to desalination, asking the PSC to make a determination that will lead to UW and Rockland developing better water planning and management. It was a galvanizing event that reflected changing thinking in Rockland that shows we are in step with the national and global trends on becoming water smart.
What is next? Experts from within the field say that written comments from the public to the PSC are now essential. Whether or not you spoke at the hearings, it is extremely important to submit your written comments by Nov 8th.
United Water thought they could overwhelm Rockland, the PSC and the DEC with thousands of pages of documents in the environmental impact statement (which is seriously flawed, fails to provide key research and supporting data, and is full of unsubstantiated statements), but the Rockland citizens have made perfect sense of the whole issue. United Water, now aware that they may lose the desalination plant, has already filed for repayment from the ratepayers of the $ 56.8 million invested by the company to date. In fact, United Water has fast tracked two rate increase requests, which would add an additional $200 to our water bills, but the County is pulling together against this, with legal actions being taken.
At the public hearing leading water experts presented evidence that Rockland has plenty of water, explained exactly what is wrong with UW’s proposal, and laid out the safer, cheaper less harmful and more sustainable better course of action. The combined testimony of all who spoke at the PSC hearing explains perfectly why this issue has become the most largely opposed in the County history. This one decision will forever impact the future health of our people, our environment, our economic stability, and our community character. All quality of life considerations for Rockland citizens that United Water has put second to their profit making in their decisions.
These are all critically important reasons for Our Town readers to send a letter to the PSC and to the governor, asking the Commission to lift the 2006 mandate that UW create a new water source. Also asking the PSC to make decisions that will lead to making better use of our existing water resources, rather than building an expensive new water supply.
Moving Rockland forward, Legislature Chairwoman Cornell together with Executive Vanderhoef have initiated a Water Task Force, and Assemblywoman Jaffee has introduced legislation, modeled after a Massachusetts law, that would require utilities to exhaust all demand side water provision solutions, before even considering building a new expensive facility.
If we don’t want to drink tritiated drinking water and be charged double rates, we need to make sure the PSC determination will match the truth that rang clear in the hearings, desalination is a bad deal for Rockland, and the water Rockland needs is here already.
For details on where to send your letter to the PSC by Nov 8th, visit, www.nodesal.com