United Water New York’s Proposed Desalination Plant
United Water New York, the company that supplies most of Rockland County’s drinking water, has proposed building a desalination plant it calls the Haverstraw Water Supply Project. The plant would pump millions of gallons a day of Hudson River water from Haverstraw Bay, treat it, and then sell the drinking water to Rockland County residents.
In January 2012, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation accepted the draft environmental impact statement prepared by United Water New York (UWNY), opening the public comment period. Riverkeeper is supporting Rockland Water Coalition’s efforts on the project, including requests for more public comment, additional hearings and funding to pay for independent experts to analyze the complex plan.
The Department of Environmental Conservation is hosting a public hearing March 6. The deadline for public comment is April 20.
There are many serious concerns about the project, including:
- Impacts to wildlife in Haverstraw Bay, one of the most important spawning areas and nurseries for fish throughout the Hudson River Estuary and the Atlantic Coast. Major species that would be affected by construction, ongoing water intakes and/or discharge of wastewater include Bay Anchovy, American Shad, Striped Bass, Atlantic Tomcod, White Perch, and River Herring.
- Energy demand, expense and climate impacts of running a desalination plant. Relative to alternatives, including conservation or use of reservoirs and groundwater, desalination is energy intensive and expensive.
- Wastewater produced by the plant. UWNY plans to send wastewater to a municipal sewage treatment plant, which would discharge the concentrated brine back into Haverstraw Bay.
- Water quality. Haverstraw Bay is polluted with contaminated sediments, sewage and urban runoff, and the plant’s intakes would be approximately 3.5-miles from Entergy’s Indian Point nuclear power plant, which releases radionuclides to the Hudson.
- Impact on regional development.
To learn more about the project, see this fact sheet.