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A Big Victory For Water Democracy in Rockland County!


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By a unanimous vote, the NYS Public Service Commission decided to abandon Suez’s controversial plan to tap, treat and desalinate Hudson River water and pipe it to Rockland County homes and businesses. Today’s decision is being celebrated in Rockland. And for all of us, it’s a victory for sustainable, community driven water management.

The ruling confirms what Rockland residents and Riverkeeper supporters have known for years: desalination is flat-out unnecessary and wasteful, given options for increased water conservation and better management of existing supplies.

The vote marks a big turnaround for the PSC. Eight years earlier, it had approved the plan by Suez (then United Water) to build a desalination plant. But soon afterward, a grassroots organization, the Rockland Water Coalition was formed, in part, to oppose the building and operation of the plant on a Hudson River estuary bay in Haverstraw, NY. They rallied the public which sent 1,500 comments to the PSC, asking that the plans for desal be shelved. This caught the attention of the PSC, who took a hard second look at the plan and its alternatives.

So, when the PSC says we don’t need desalination, what they’re saying is we can do better with conservation, better management of the available water supply, and finding new wells. Desalination would require a lot of energy. It would have required as much energy as three or four thousand homes. It would have doubled water rates.

At Riverkeeper we think this is what democracy looks like. This is communities coming in and saying, “We know how to manage our resources, and we want the government to support us, and we want companies like Suez to support us.” And lo and behold, with the decision today by Governor Cuomo and the Public Service Commission, the people of New York and the people of Rockland are getting their opportunity to provide for better management of their resources, and a smarter approach, to making sure we never end up like California, in a situation where we are running out of water.

We don’t need the desalination plant. The decision by the PSC and Governor Cuomo is a wise one. It’s now supported by Suez and the government in Rockland County, as well as the activists who first rallied to halt the desalination plan.

Riverkeeper, our good friends at Scenic Hudson and our legal partners Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic are as proud as can be to be part of this new decision, which says no to desalinating Hudson River water and yes to conservation, reducing leaks, and finding safer, more sustainable ways to supply water to people in Rockland.

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