by Peggy Kurtz
The Trump administration wants to privatize municipal infrastructure. But there’s lots of evidence corporations don’t manage communities’ water in the public interest.
Rockland County is a case in point. Suez North America owns most of our water infrastructure. Residents are angry over high rates, frequent service interruptions and often unusable water, and Suez’s flawed conservation plan, on which New York’s Public Service Commission is about to rule.
Rockland ratepayers are slated to reimburse Suez for $40 million plus interest it spent on its aborted desalination boondoggle. The PSC ordered Suez to focus instead on water conservation and repairing leaks. But Suez’s resulting conservation plan is a fig leaf. It ignores community input and is set up to fail. Rockland County, its five towns and 19 civic and environmental groups oppose it.
If the PSC approves it anyway, it could spark rebellion and feed a nascent “Take Back Our Water” movement, which cities and towns across the US have already joined. If the PSC wants the arrangement with Suez to work, it should throw the pro forma plan out, and work with local stakeholders to come up with a real one.
Public involvement was critical in getting to this point. The public can make a difference now by contacting Governor Cuomo and the PSC. You should call the Governor at (518) 474-8390 and email the PSC at firstname.lastname@example.org, both referring to Rate Case 16-W- 0130. You can find more information at www.sustainablerockland.org.
Peggy Kurtz is a member of the Rockland Water Coalition and the Rockland Sierra Club