The Rockland Coalition for Sustainable Water asked the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to extend the public comment period to six months for United Water’s proposed . The project’s draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was accepted as complete by the DEC on Wednesday. The existing public comment schedule calls for two public hearings on February 28 and a March 18 deadline for written statements.
The DEC’s announcement comes after two and half years of development of the plan for the desalination plant. Although the acceptance moves the project ahead, it does not mean the proposal for installation of a Hudson River pumping station, treatment plant and water main in Haverstraw, has received approval.
According to a statement issued by the Coalition the additional public comment time is needed.
“This would give experts and citizens adequate time to review the extensive document. Given the complexity of this project, the Coalition believes it is not possible to do the independent analysis of the data needed for a proper assessment of this application in an abbreviated period of time.”
Deb Rizzi of United Water said the company thinks the amount of comment time provided is reasonable.
"We certainly believe that the 60-day comment period is sufficient," she said on Friday.
Additionally, the Coalition asked the DEC to direct United Water to provide intervener funds for municipalities and citizen groups to pay for independent expert review. The group said precedent has been set with other regional projects such as a solid waste transfer station in the Bronx and for the siting of any electrical public utility.
In response to the request for possible funding for an outside analysis of the project, Rizzi stated the company's studies and documentation are thorough and complete and they do not feel an additional review is necessary.
Besides the public hearings on February 28 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Haverstraw Town Hall, the Coalition asked for more opportunities for public input in different locations. Rizzi said United Water believes the two public hearings provide ample opportunity for input.
The DEC is expected to consider the Coalition’s requests and United Water will abide by the DEC's decision. The purpose of the project would be to increase the amount of potable water available to the existing United Water supply system in Rockland.
View the DEIS on the United Water web site.
The Rockland Water Coalition has information about Hudson River desalination on its web site.