Protection of our water resources is a high priority for OE. From battling the ill advised Orange County Water Loop plan to water quality protection in our local rivers, we stand ever on the watch. The Harriman Sewage Treatment Plant on the Ramapo River is one such issue. 

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. The Ramapo River which runs 155 miles rises from Round Lake, a small freshwater lake in the Village of Monroe, in Orange County, NY,  and runs from central-southern Orange County through western Rockland and into northern Bergen and Passaic Counties in 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.

However, Orange County was fighting the DEC on that request on the grounds it was prohibitively expensive for no new capacity. The county has been exploring solutions to additional capacity at the plant due to increased growth in the area. 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. In 2020, a consulting panel endorsed expanding the county’s sewage treatment plant in Harriman in answer to the expected growth. The expansion and upgrade would cost $54 million under the approach the consultants recommended. A committee of lawmakers and officials who has been studying the issue over the previous year voted to support that option, and the scoping document for the proposed project was finalized just this past February (2021).  If approved, 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 proposed expansion and as an advocate for clean water for our region will scrutinize the EIS for the project when it becomes available.