Protection of water resources is a high priority for OE. From battling the ill advised Orange County Water Loop plan to addressing issues of expanded discharges to the Ramapo River from the Harriman Sewage Treatment Plant to monitoring issues such as PFOS in our drinking water, we stand ever on the watch.
The Ramapo River Valley has been federally designated as a “sole source aquifer” of drinking water for about 2 million people in New York and New Jersey. With population growth and increased development along the Ramapo River, the watershed is facing threats from urbanization and industrial development.
The Harriman STP which processes 6 million gallons a day of treated wastewater daily into the Ramapo River has a significant impact on the river’s water quality. In 2018 the DEC had requested new treatment requirements for the Harriman plant because of elevated levels of chlorides and total dissolved solids in the Ramapo River. In 2020, a consulting panel endorsed expanding the county’s sewage treatment plant in Harriman in answer to the expected growth. The plant serves the villages of Kiryas Joel, Monroe, Harriman, South Blooming Grove and Chester as well as parts of the Village of Woodbury and towns of Monroe and Chester. A committee of lawmakers and officials who had been studying the issue over the previous year voted to support expansion, and the scoping document for the proposed project was finalized in February 2021. The project would increase the plant’s capacity by 50%, raising its flow limit to 9 million gallons per day from 6 million gallons per day to the Ramapo River. OE is keeping its eye on this expansion and, as an advocate for clean water for our region, will scrutinize the EIS for the project when it becomes available.
Another concern is the presence of PFOS (Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid) in our drinking water. The NYS DOH has established a 10 ppt (MCL – Maximum Contaminant Level) which they say is below levels known or estimated to cause health effects. Some of the health effects were on the liver and immune system and impaired fetal growth and development. Towns have begun to test and some are showing greater than 10 ppt. Solutions to PFOS/PFOA contamination are clean-up of contributing polluted sites and installing treatment processes to municipal water systems. Additionally, along with the Rockland Water Coalition and others, we encourage the Governor to sign the Emerging Contaminant Monitoring Act which would add 40 chemicals to the list of emerging contaminants and lead to better oversight and action.