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Water/Waste Processing e-News / Municipal

New York utility forced to shelve plans for desalination plant

June 30, 2014
KEYWORDS desalination
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New York regulators have decided to delay their decision on whether an expensive desalination plant will be built on the Hudson River, stating that meeting Rockland County's long-term water needs will not be discussed or determined until 2020, while the county's short-term water supplies are sufficient to meet current demand.

This means that the utility that planned to construct the desalination plant -- United Water New York -- will have to continue dealing with serious political and environmental opposition to its plans.

The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) estimated that Rockland County's demand for water has decreased and, as a result, decided to postpone its decision on the matter from 2015 to 2020.

Meanwhile, United Water New York has asked the PSC for permission to increase its customers' bills to help fund the desalination plant in Haverstraw, on the Hudson River. The utility, a subsidiary of French company Suez Environnement, claimed that the $56.8 million it has already spent on the project should be recovered through a more than eight-percent increase in rates. If allowed, each resident of Rockland County would have to pay about $179 extra, Capital New York reported. However, the request goes against established utility practices whereby ratepayers are not asked to pay for infrastructure upgrades or improvements until they are in use.

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