Rockland County is located in a water rich region of New York State, with an annual rainfall of generally over 40 inches. Lake DeForest, located in the Town of Clarkstown, supplies 30% of Rockland’s water, while 70% of drinking water is supplied through wells that tap into Rockland’s underground aquifers. Although Rockland receives ample rainfall, a growing population requires that the water supply is managed more holistically. With the addition of more paved surfaces, less water will be available to recharge ground water supplies.
The most cost-effective way to protect drinking water is conservation. Protecting streams, rivers, and lakes that recharge aquifers and reservoirs is critical to protect the quality and quantity of drinking water. The quality and quantity of drinking water is threatened by sprawling development covering ground water recharge areas; polluted runoff from agricultural, commercial, and industrial sites; and failing wastewater infrastructure. Implementing better water management practices is an effective strategy to protect drinking water at the source.
Annually, close to one billion gallons of water that could be recharging aquifers flow out-of-county carried on paved surfaces as storm water run-off. Sustainable water management follows three principles: slow it down, spread it out, and soak it in. These methods include enhancing aquifer recharge by designated special groundwater recharge areas and allowing rainfall to recharge drinking water sources; and building rain gardens and pervious pavement to allow for groundwater recharge.
Water conservation policies to protect the environment, avoid drought, or obviate the need for expensive infrastructure include showerhead replacement programs, toilet retrofits and replacements; landscaping programs and irrigation codes; the promotion of green infrastructure such as rain barrels; and an education campaign for residents. Areas that have adopted these conservation practices have reduced water use by as much as 30 percent.
Currently, the private water utility, United Water New York (“United Water”), is proposing to meet long term drinking water needs by building a desalination plant on the shores of the Hudson River. Rockland County ratepayers can avoid the cost and environmental impacts from an unnecessary desalination plant by adopting a strong water management plan that encourages sustainable management of local water resources.
CCE delivers 8,000 signed petitions, calling for no desalination plant on the Hudson and a sustainable policy for Rockland.
CCE is conducting an extensive grassroots campaign across Rockland County to educate residents about the desalination proposal and the need for sustainable water solutions. CCE has found overwhelming support for water conservation and management, the use of green infrastructure, and smarter land use decisions. More than 8,000 Rockland residents have signed petitions and more than 4,000 individual letters have been mailed to members of the county legislature saying "No to wasting water, No to wasting money on an energy-intensive desalination plan, and YES to a sustainable drinking water management plan."
Despite the overwhelming support from the public, the County has yet to develop a sustainable drinking water management plan, and United Water continues to pursue construction of an unnecessary desalination plant. The public must continue to demand sustainable solutions for Rockland County’s water needs!
Email or call you town supervisor, county legislator, and the County Executive. Tell them:
- Why protecting drinking water is important to you.
- To develop a Sustainable Drinking Water Management Plan that includes water conservation, smart land use planning, and green infrastructure to meet Rockland’s long term clean water needs.
- You oppose the construction of an unnecessary desalination plant.
Hon. Alex J. Gromack
Hon. Howard T. Phillips, Jr.
Hon. Christopher P. St Lawrence
Hon. Paul Whalen
(845) 359-5100 x2261
Hon. William E. Sherwood
(845) 786-2716 x111
Not sure who your County Legislator is? Identify your legislator
Hon. Scott Vanderhoef
CCE works with the Rockland Coalition for Sustainable Water, a coalition of citizens and environmental organizations taking a critical look at the impacts of the desalination proposal and advocating sustainable water management policies, such as conservation.
updated by mwallach 5/27/11