by Ed Day, Rockland County Executive
Our water, how much we keep for ourselves — and how much more UWNY wants Rocklander’s to pay for it — are in the news.
The New York State Public Service Commission will hold Rate Case Public Hearings on Wed in West Nyack 4/23 and Thurs 4/24 in Ramapo to hear comments about United Water’s proposed 24.5% rate increase and an 8% surcharge to cover project development costs associated with the Haverstraw Desalination plant.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day says the origins for some of our water problems go back 60 years.
As both sides continue to lobby and firm up positions on United Water New York’s proposed rate hike and the company’s plan to build a desalination plant in West Haverstraw, our county lawyers have quietly targeted a separate issue involving our local water supply. Separate, but just as important for everyone who pays United Water to use the tap.
The Rockland County Attorney’s Office last week filed extensive legal papers calling on the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to correct an unfair water agreement which has been on the books for 60 years.
H2-Oh! What Will This Cost?
The NYS PSC will hold Public Hearings on Wed and Thurs to intake public comments on United Water’s proposed 24.5% rate increase and and 8% surcharge. There will be 4:30p and 7p meetings on both days.
- Wed April 23: Felix Festa Middle School, 30 Parrott Road in West Nyack. Use the Auditorium, B-wing entrance
- Thurs April 24: Town of Ramapo Town Hall Council 237 Route 59 in Suffern.
Here’s the background: The PSC is currently reviewing a 20-year extension to the Lake DeForest Reservoir Cost Allocation Agreement, which was originally drafted in 1954 to define how the cost of operating the reservoir would be shared between the Spring Valley Water Company (now United Water New York, UWNY) and their parent company, the Hackensack Water Company (now United Water New Jersey, UWNJ).
The existing cost shares are based on each company’s minimum expected annual average share of water from Lake DeForest, 7.75 million gallons per day (mgd) for UWNJ and 10 mgd for UWNY. The Village of Nyack uses the remaining 2 mgd of the Lake DeForest safe yield each year.
Historically, UWNY has only used its 10 mgd allocation of the safe yield and Nyack has used its 2 mgd. In most years, however, the actual amount of water available from Lake DeForest is much greater. In fact, the long-term average flow of water from the reservoir downstream into the UWNJ system has been roughly 27 mgd.
Under the existing terms, United Water New Jersey customers pay for the use of only 7.75 million gallons of water per day from Lake DeForest, regardless how much is used. In contrast, the cost to UWNY customers rises if more than an average 10 mgd from Lake DeForest is used, under all but high flow conditions when the lake is full.
Simply put, United Water New York ratepayers have been getting the short end of the stick for decades. It’s about time the PSC makes fundamental changes to this longstanding, inequitable Agreement for the environmental and economic benefit of the County. As a matter of fairness and balance, we believe this deal must not be approved until the PSC considers the County’s recommendations.
Ed Day is the Rockland County Executive.
See also: Public hearings on request to raise your rates, SustainableRockland.org
Photo: Lake DeForest, Rockland County. Credit: Laurie Seeman via Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.