Rockland Responds: County Executive Ed Day Responds to Question on Rockland's Drinking Water
I read in Rockland Daily about Veola having applied for a deferral because of the high levels of chemicals in the water we are still drinking. Can someone explain to me how come we have Lake Deforest in our county sending water to New Jersey, yet residents of Rockland get the Ramapo well fields which are known to be contaminated and which the water company knows is contaminated, and yet they get deferrals at the risk of OUR health?
Veolia supplies water to Rockland county with a number of sources that include Lake Deforest and the Ramapo Valley well field. It is true that water flows from Lake Deforest to New Jersey. Releases from the dam are regulated via permits with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). The mandatory controlled releases are in place to ensure the stream does not dry up, in addition to ensuring flow for downstream users. Those releases are based on natural stream flows before the Lake Deforest dam was built. These releases are controlled by Veolia and monitored by NYSDEC to ensure base stream flow is maintained as best as it can be without releasing too much or too little water. When the reservoir is full, higher amounts of water spill over the dam, and that cannot be controlled.
The question implies that Veolia is sending water to New Jersey and using the RVWF instead of Lake DeForest. That is not an accurate characterization. Both of those important supplies are relied on heavily for Rockland's drinking water. Operationally, there are limitations in utilizing other sources while Veolia works through the design and construction of treatment plants to meet the new standards for PFOS & PFOA.
It could also be considered a mischaracterization to refer to the PFOS/PFOA levels in some of Veolia's sources as "high" levels. It is true that they have sources with levels above the new drinking water standards, set by New York Department of Health (NYSDOH) regulations, that require public notification and water systems to take action and install treatment. However, they are significantly lower than levels found in some other counties in New York State, which led to more severe problems/concerns and were a factor in the promulgation of the new standards. NYSDOH considers the levels found in Rockland to be in the lower range, where the sources can still be used without a Do Not Drink Order while treatment is being installed. At higher levels, where there is evidence of known health effects, a Do Not Drink Order would be issued, and more immediate action would be needed by water systems and consumers.
Rockland County Executive
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