Saving Water To Save You Money

By Legislator Harriet D. Cornell (D-West Nyack)

Harriet CornellWater is a precious resource, and each of us can ensure that Rockland continues to have an adequate supply of safe drinking water for years to come. Did you know that water conservation is always cheaper than any other solution—especially building new supply sources?

Like so many Rocklanders, I was outraged by United Water’s plan to build a costly, energy-intensive desalination plant across from Indian Point, using Hudson River water. Working with residents in a Water Coalition, I proposed to the NYS Public Service Commission that instead, Rockland develop its own sustainable water plan.

Subsequently, Rockland County created the Task Force on Water Resources Management, which I chair. The PSC listened to the people, and ordered United Water to abandon its desalination plant. The importance of the Task Force was demonstrated once again this week, when United Water (now Suez) announced the presence of contaminants in the water supply that exceeded the maximum allowed by law.

The Water Task Force has also been working on numerous conservation measures to reduce the amount of water used in Rockland. Thanks to plumbing standards and more efficient fixtures, such as low-flow toilets, water demand has been largely flat since 2000 despite a growing population, but we must plan for future needs.

There are many ways to conserve water, and the PSC required Suez to submit a conservation plan. We are carefully examining the Suez proposals which were submitted to the PSC with new rate requests – and are concerned that its conservation target is far too low. Suez should greatly accelerate repair and replacement of water mains and pipes which account for losses of many millions of gallons of water each week in Rockland.

Last year, I proposed that Rockland join the federal EPA WaterSense program which encourages the use of specially certified water fixtures that use 20 percent less water than older fixtures, without sacrificing performance and at no more expense.

I also sponsored an amendment to the County’s Procurement Policy which was passed in the Legislature and signed by the County Executive so that new fixtures purchased for government facilities will have the WaterSense label. Being innovative and using proven new technology will save real taxpayer money by greatly reducing the amount of water used.

Great news! The 2016 NYS Budget includes $250,000 requested by the Water Task Force to develop and implement our comprehensive water conservation plan for Rockland. Thanks go to Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee for spearheading this approval and to her colleagues, Ken Zebrowski and David Carlucci for their support. Receiving this funding is a testament to the tremendous efforts of the Task Force to change the way we think about water and save taxpayers money.

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