Sierra Club of Rockland County

Is Drinking Hudson River Water the Answer to Rockland's Water Needs?

United Water has proposed a desalination/water treatment plant which would draw water from the Hudson River for Rockland’s drinking water.  In addition to desalination, the plant would use reverse osmosis to remove contaminants, including PCBs and radionuclides such as strontium 90.    While health concerns come to mind first, there are a number of other excellent reasons that a coalition of environmental and civic groups, including Rockland Sierra Club, have joined together in the Rockland Coalition for Sustainable Water, in opposition to this proposal. United Water's draft environmental impact statement will be filed in the fall, followed by a public comment period. 

Safe to drink?

While experts agree that reverse osmosis can reduce the known pollutants to levels below EPA’s “level of concern”, many residents are concerned that trace amounts in drinking water may pose long term health risks.  The proposed site for water intake is across from Indian Point, which is leaking radioactive byproducts into the river, and downriver from GE’s dredging of PCBs and adjacent to hazardous waste sites. While the radionuclide tritium cannot be removed, it is below the "level of concern". 

 Escalating energy use & costs

A highly energy intensive process, reverse osmosis water treatment would lock us into a long term escalation of energy use at a time when we should be rapidly reducing energy use in response to climate change and it would peg our water rates and taxes more closely to rising energy costs.

Impact on the Hudson River ecosystem

In addition to the impact of water withdrawals and the discharge of brine back into the river, desalination plants kill fish and other organisms in their machinery.  Haverstraw Bay, the proposed site, is an essential habitat for a number of fish species. 

 Sustainable limits to development

Tapping into the Hudson River to quench the thirst of these new developments will not create a sustainable supply of water. Instead, it will further overdevelopment.  Our natural resources cannot sustain this endless development without the loss of a sustainable ecological balance.

 What are the alternatives?

We need a fresh look at a sustainable water policy, a comprehensive approach to water management that includes the real potential of aggressive water conservation and efficiency programs, rainwater harvesting and gray water reuse, as well as resource-based limits to development.   

 The Rockland Coalition for Sustainable Water was formed to take a critical look at the impacts of the proposal to treat water from the Hudson River for drinking water and to advocate sustainable water management policies, such as conservation, in Rockland County.  The coalition includes Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Food and Water Watch, Nanuet Civic Association, Preserve Ramapo, Rockland RAFT, Ramapo River Watershed Intermunicipal Council, Ramapo River Committee, Rockland Sierra Club, Stony Point Action Committee for the Environment (SPACE), Torne Valley Preservation Association and West Branch Conservation Association.

 

For more information, call (845) 358-3386 or email pkurtz9@gmail.comSee also 'files' on this website.

 



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