Rocklanders Question, Protest Hudson River Drinking Water

Public hearing on proposed desalination plant draws supporters, critics; preceded by protest

Whether or not Rockland will draw a portion of its drinking water from the Hudson River in coming years was the centerpiece of a passionate public hearing Tuesday afternoon at Haverstraw Town Hall.

The meeting—which allowed residents, politicians and environmental activists to sound off on the —drew a crowd of vocal supporters and critics that crowded into standing space.

The project aims to equip Haverstraw with a desalination plant that would pump in water from the Hudson River, treat it and remove salt, and pipe it to homeowners, firehouses, hospitals and schools throughout the county.

United Water, which serves about 270,000 residents throughout Rockland and would helm the project, (DEIS) earlier this year.

The project came on the heels of a state mandate that called on Rockland to address its growing population and water shortage by 2015.

Officials said Tuesday that the desalination plant is the cheapest and most environmental-friendly of all solutions; other plans included recycling wastewater or creating a new reservoir.

Still, not all residents and lawmakers are content with the turning on the tap and having Hudson River flow out.

"It will have negative effects on Rockland's residents and environment that will be impossible to reverse," said Shirley Lasker, a Clarkstown town board member who lives in Upper Nyack. Lasker also expressed trepidation that the plant will be located about four miles from Buchanan's Indian Energy Center. Lasker said the nuclear power plant has a history of releasing tritium into the water, a radioactive isotope that is believed to cause reproductive and genetic health issues.

Lasker set up shop with about two-dozen Rocklanders in front of town hall half-an-hour before the 2 p.m. public hearing kicked off; under the banner of the , Lasker and other decried the plant and held signs that read "I Like the Hudson, But I Don't Want to Drink It."

Orangetown supervisor Andy Stewart joined the protest, calling for United Water and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to explore other options.

Michael Pointing—United Water's vice president and general manager—took the podium before the public spoke at the public hearing.

"The need for water will continue to increase," he said, noting the desalination plant will cause the least financial burden and is "the best all-around solution."

Pointing's support was echoed by Michael Kohut and John Ramundo, the mayors of Haverstraw and West Haverstraw, respectively. Kohut cited the current pilot plant in Haverstraw, which has been functioning effectively as a prototype and microcosm of the proposed plant for about one year.

"Our community could certainly use the economic benefits this project would bring," Kohut added.

Ramundo assailed several of the groups protesting the plant as "special interest groups" without Rockland's best interests in mind.

Still, the majority of speakers spoke against the desalination plant—and those who did were often met with applause. Reasons for Rocklanders' anxiety were varied: some expressed trepidation at property values decreasing and higher taxes, and others were quick to note ecological concerns.

Laurie Seeman, a members of the Rockland Water Coalition, said the Hudson's sturgeon population could be negatively affected—, too.

The public comment period will continue until April 20—Rocklanders can submit written comments to Andrea Sheeran, NYS DEC, Division of Environmental Permits, 625 Broadway, 4th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-1750. Comments can also be faxed (518.402.9168) or emailed (depprmt@gw.dec.state.ny.us)

Another public hearing is slated for Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Once the public comment period draws to a close, United Water will release a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).

Smitty Chesterfield March 07, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Also, people who were there opposing it had several reasons for doing so. Health concerns, cost concerns. environmental, etc. The union members that were there only had one interest in mind...jobs. I can't say that I blame them, because there was a lack of construction jobs out there. I may take that gamble if I was in that situation. However, you are unfairly saying that the opponents were coming up with nothing just because it was not consistent with your needs.
West Nyack March 07, 2012 at 02:31 PM
I appreciate the support of the unions and hope everyone finds employment quickly but no project should be decided based on putting people to work. As I stated yesterday the unions supported the Palisades Center Mall project, worked for a couple of years and left. The community ended up with a hugh unmanageable eyesore. Also the issue shouldn't be whether the Hudson River Water can be cleaned up, technology exists now and that can be done (not sure about Indian Point "accidental discharges thou". The real issue is whether United Water can be trusted to operate such a facility. They have proven time and again they cannot manage Lake Deforest and refuse to work with the community on other issues. Fix what they broke in the past and then we can talk about the future. Besides other than Ramapo where is all this supposed growth coming from that the water will be needed?
GSI March 07, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Thank you to all who posted for their thoughts on both sides of this issue. i am just beginning to educate myself about this project however, upon first review i was struck by 2 things: UnitedWater was Sued very recently for willingly and knowingly diverting Rockland water to NJ - thus creating a "false" water shortage for Rockland and profits from NJ's water sale for UW? is that correct? and the punishment was a FINE? second, there is REAL data- available on Hudson River water quality- and historical data in towns/counties where this has already been done. We need to know that our elected officials have taken a critical look at California's experience in this arena and how it worked for them,fiscally and environmentally. most importantly i would like to know that Governor Cuomo has given thoughtful time to what that means for Rockland county and all of us. because ultimately, we are our brothers keepers, like it or not and we are responsible for the protecting the places we live
Stephen J. Reich March 07, 2012 at 03:26 PM
The "eyesore" called the Palisades Mall has enabled Clarkstown to balance their budget and keep taxes in check while rebuilding their infrastructure each year in a responsible, economic way. Way ahead of any other township in the county. As far as water management. The desal plant will bring security to Rockland against flooding and drought though reservoir releases and level management. The health effects have been shown to meet State standards so it is no different than the water in the current reservoirs. The wild card is an accident at Indian Point which In a modern society has to be proven that the current regulations will prevent.
Stephen J. Reich March 07, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Mr. Hull is spot on. The population growth is absolutely the reason for the need. Rockland population is growing at 3 times the State rate. Some have suggested building another reservoir. The working man element in the equation would favor that due to the jobs it creates as well. The reason a desal plant is needed is it's flexibility and open ended amount that can be processed as need arises. It is a cheaper long term solution. Stopping it will cause shortages. If a solution is not found, we have to deal with population growth immediately. A far more complicated problem as Mr. Hull pointed out clearly.
mike sullivan March 07, 2012 at 03:51 PM
how can you say the unions left, we have people in there working constantly(new stores, renovations) plus we shop at the mall as far as a eyesore thats your perception,i do not feel that way my kids love the p mall as they call it
Smitty Chesterfield March 07, 2012 at 04:11 PM
It is an eyesore. The HVAC compnents all over the mall are hideous. I do have to say, the huge cracks that go along the floors are a nice touch. How long before the mall sinks to cover them up?
Truth March 07, 2012 at 09:26 PM
FYI Mayor John Ramundo was employed by UW for 30 plus years and now collects a pension from them .Amazing what goes on in the dark. I would prasie UW as well!!!
Truth March 07, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Furthermore United Water has NO active water conservation program in place and has never ! They dont reach out to the public and teach them proper conservation methods! I Challege anyone to prove me wrong on this and I Challege United Water to provide documentation were they have gone out and taught water conservation to anyone ,proactivily! Conservation Through Education!!!
Issy March 08, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Utter nonsense.Go to their website it has all sort of conservation programs including a kit for your house. And you call yourself the truth, LOL
mike sullivan March 08, 2012 at 12:19 AM
when there are water restrictions ,everyone ignores anyway nice green lawns,full swimming pools the "Truth" doesnt like the truth
Truth March 08, 2012 at 12:21 AM
A proper program ,i.e. fire prevetion , water conservation would be to contact schools , senior groups, men and women org. and set up time and place to come to them and educate. You dont wait for the public to "check your website" . Utter nonesense , get a clue ! Uw shoudl be proactive and productive not reactive and desstructive . Go out to every school in rockland county and teach the kids! Not hope someone will swing by your website! Isnt Issy a a commune in southweswtern paris, france???? have a good day a work at united water tomorrow!
Truth March 08, 2012 at 12:22 AM
you are correct mike no one does listen that doesnt change the fact UW doesnt have an active conservation program!!!!
Truth March 08, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Issy , how are children educated since the beginning of time ?? they are taught in a formal enviroment , not paper posted on a wall , or in this day and age , told to go to a web site !!! They are presented information in a formal setting and asked questioned on it and even tested on it! Proper water conservation is no diffrent . UW needs to go out and educate , therefore eliminating any question and if people still dont listen so be it, I believe you will find overall a proper conservation program will be successful !!!
Issy March 08, 2012 at 12:39 AM
United Water does go out and conduct school visits and community events. It is not their fault you ignore the TRUTH.
Truth March 08, 2012 at 12:43 AM
PROVE IT!!! they do not go to any school in rockland county public school system,that is fact take it to the bank!!! prov me wrong!!
Truth March 08, 2012 at 12:51 AM
p.s. the rockland county home show one weekend a year is a water conservation program. i was born at night but not last night. you clearly work for UW so prove me wrong , prove to me UW goes to every school in rockland and teaches our most vaulable resource our children , to past the message!!!
Truth March 08, 2012 at 12:53 AM
not to mention Mayor John Ramundo being a retired 30 plus year employee of UW, If i was collecting a pension from UW I would tell everyone how great UW was too.
Steve Goudsmith March 08, 2012 at 01:04 AM
United Water has reached over 15,000 children in Rockland County in just the last few years. We regularly teach children wise water use and the water cycle. We also attend various community events where we speak with customers about conservation. Just recently, we attended the Suburban Home Show at RCC where we literally spoke with hundreds of people on conservation. In addition to providing a comprehensive conservation website, bill inserts and customer brochures, we also distribute an annual conservation guide through the Journal News. Lastly, although I am surei have left some things out, we are working with Cornell Cooperative Extension on having a Water Conservation Day. Thank you. Steve Goudsmith Director, Communications United Water
Issy March 08, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Steve, I think someone just got schooled.
Truth March 08, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Can you provide me with dates you went to clarkstown central school district???? you cant didnt happen!!!
Truth March 08, 2012 at 01:31 AM
There are over 10,000 children in clarkstown central school district, that leaves North rockland , orangetown ,nanuet , ramapo, pearl river, nyack school districts. so you have educated about 15 % of the kids in rockland ,I think you have fallen short . Lets be honest if UW hired a person at say 50k a year and all that person did was educate , you could proudly say you have done all you can regardless of how much people conserve . Be proactive eliminate the doubt !
Truth March 08, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Isnt there a water conservation month already?? Mr Goudsmith im very sure you are an extremely busy man , but lets me honest has UW really done all they can on conservation?? Google water conservation you will programs worldwide that are very succesful. .We can go back and forth but the numbers dont lie . You say you have hit 15,000 kids in the last few years, there are over 100,000 kids in schools in rockland. You need to reach the kids dont wait for them to reach you . Uw fails to every see it any other . Perhaps say ,thats something we can look into not present numbers that are clearly lacking ,im not impressed with 15 %. October is fire prevention month and EVERY grammar school in rockland is given a presentation in that month , It can be done and then you elimate the people like me who question the matter!!
Truth March 08, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Issy , im not impressed with fancy titles and numbers that are lacking roughly 10,000 kids is roughly 15% in the last few years is not an impressive number . so to answer your question no i wasnt schooled. Have a good day at work tomorrow , you work in uwny or uwnj??
Truth March 08, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Mr Goudsmith , you cant rely on hand outs mailed to people in their bills, lets be honest those are tossed in the garbage. You need a capative audience, if you have the childrens attention they will pass it on to their parents, kids are wise beyond their years i have 3, and they will call you out on things. truthful and honestly educate every kid in the county and then ill be impressed. The money is in your budget its not that expensive
Truth March 08, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Oh and one more thing Mr Goudsmith , which your friend Issy failed to answer , perhaps Mayor John Ramundo should not be so vocal and remain neutral on the haverstraw water project being he served UW for 30 plus years and now collects a pension from them , it could be considered a conflict of interest.NO?
Truth March 08, 2012 at 03:12 AM
And just for the record , I have been both in the public and private water utility for the last 15 years, I started installing water main and services ,then moved on to meter dept, production dept , Im a IIA cert NYS Treatment operator and had several articles published in industry based magazines over the years, so I didnt just fall off the Apple tree.
Truth March 08, 2012 at 03:06 PM
and the voices are silent again!!! dont fight the fight if you arent prepared to take it all the way!!!
Truth March 08, 2012 at 05:34 PM
amazing how quite it gets when you think you have made a point!
Smitty Chesterfield May 02, 2012 at 02:53 AM
And we are supposed to trust United Water and the desalination plant? http://nanuet.patch.com/articles/united-water-pays-23k-penalty-over-pesticides-at-lake-deforest-reservoir


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