News > News > Preserve River Ecology > Environmental Groups Applaud PSC Action on Proposed Desalination Plant

Environmental Groups Applaud PSC Action on Proposed Desalination Plant

July 18, 2013

Scenic Hudson

Contact: Scenic Hudson Environmental Advocacy Attorney Hayley Carlock, [email protected], 845 891 3148
Riverkeeper Press Officer Tina Posterli, [email protected], 516 526 9371

HAVERSTRAW, ROCKLAND COUNTY—Two leading Hudson Valley environmental groups are applauding an announcement (see attached) today by the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) that it will institute a proceeding to examine the need for an industrial water desalination facility proposed by United Water for Haverstraw, Rockland County.

Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson have worked for more than a year with thousands of local citizens as well as local advocacy groups and public officials to get the PSC to take this kind of serious look at whether Rockland County needs an additional water supply and whether an expensive desalination plant is the right solution. Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson along with allies contend that the oversized plant proposed by United Water would have major impacts on the environment and endangered species, public health and drinking water safety while also burdening consumers with rising costs for water when excess Rockland water is being sent to New Jersey and water conservation efforts could answer the county’s need for drinking water.

Scenic Hudson Senior Vice President Steve Rosenberg said, “This is a major victory for the people and environment of Rockland County. The PSC deserves strong praise for understanding that this large industrial plant could have big consequences for an ecologically sensitive and heavily populated area. This proposal merits a serious vetting with broader public input. That’s what the PSC will help make happen. Rockland County residents deserve better than a proposal that wastes energy, money and the area’s natural resources while it perpetuates a future of greater waste and damage to our natural treasures.

President and Hudson Riverkeeper Paul Gallay said, “Kudos to the Public Service Commission for calling a halt to this costly, energy-intensive desalination proposal in order to take a close look at whether it’s necessary. In the cold light of day, this project will be revealed as neither needed nor appropriate. Even bigger cheers for the Rockland Water Coalition and the elected officials from Rockland who lobbied the PSC to take this step. They represent citizen activism and public service at their finest.”

Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper pointed out that today’s PSC announcement follows committed advocacy by many parties. The campaign against the proposed plant has included an August 2012 letter by Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee to the PSC requesting that they reconsider the need for the proposed desalination plant in light of new information and changed circumstances that seriously called into question whether a long-term water supply project was needed. This was followed by a resolution requesting the same from the Rockland County Legislature and similar requests from New York State Sen. David Carlucci, Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt, and U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, along with the Hudson Valley’s leading environmental groups and The Rockland Water Coalition. The new information includes new data and analysis regarding United Water’s excessive releases of water from Lake DeForest reservoir to its sister company, United Water New Jersey, a 2011 study of Rockland County water resources by the United States Geological Survey, and the untapped potential for conservation and efficiency measures.

In related advocacy Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson continue to look forward to a decision by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regarding administrative hearings on the many environmental threats posed by the plant. More than a year has passed since formal requests were made that the DEC give a hard look to impacts from the proposed plant. The groups have noted to the DEC that the plant would make daily water withdrawals of up to 10 million gallons from a Hudson River location that represents some of the state’s most highly valued fish and wildlife habitats. The water intakes would be located just 3.5 miles downstream of Indian Point nuclear power plant and technology employed by the desalination plant would not remove radioactive material that may be present in the water. Also the groups pressed the DEC to consider that by providing a virtually unlimited water supply, the proposed project would perpetuate sprawling development patterns.

UWNY Public Service Commission Press Release

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