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Water War: WJWW vs. Citizens over Land Swap to Build Industrial Plant

“Safe water” campaign sign Boston Post Road, Mamaroneck (photo: Charlie Perlman)

You may have seen the signs posted in Larchmont, Mamaroneck and other towns imploring people to “Demand Safe Water.”

This is not the work of an environmental group, but of the Westchester Joint Water Works (WJWW) which is fighting several groups of residents over a proposed land swap in order to build a filtration plant.

New York State ordered the water agency to build a filtration plant in 2003, as did the federal government in 2019, to serve an estimated 100,000 Westchester residents in Harrison, Mamaroneck, Rye and New Rochelle – about 10% of the county’s population. It would filter water from the Rye Lake water source and would be completed by 2027.

The $138 million plant is needed, in part, to control levels of byproducts from disinfection (such as chlorine) such as ” Haloacetic Acids (HAA5s) that have been found at elevated levels in WJWW’s water distribution system,” according to the utility’s “Support the Swap” campaign website.  These compounds can potentially increase risks of cancer, liver disease and kidney disease, according to the project’s final environmental impact statement.

But in order to build the plant, WJWW now wants to swap 13 acres of land it owns in Harrison along the Westchester County Airport’s southern boundary, where it first considered building the plant during the 2000s, with a nearby wooded parcel of the same size on Purchase Street in Harrison, owned by the County and adjoining the airport.

The areas in the dashed orange lines depict the two 13.4-acre tracts that would be subject to the swap. A spokesman for WJWW says the Filtration Plant must be located in this general area to filter the raw water from the Rye Lake Pump Station before the water is conveyed to the purchase Street Storage Tanks. (Map courtesy WJWW)

The water agency is racing against time for approval to build the 37-foot high industrial complex as a reported $100 million in government fines accrue, at a rate of $13,750 per day.  The land swap would have to be approved by the Westchester Board of Legislators.

There is much opposition to the plan. The land is next to a nearly 300-year old Quaker Congregation on Purchase Street, whose members say it would encroach on their historic 4-acre property, and have filed suit in State Supreme Court demanding more study. The suit alleges that the WJWW has not met the requirements necessary to justify building on County-owned property within the Kensico Reservoir watershed.

In a letter to County Executive George Latimer, Purchase resident David De Lott writes, “There is a disturbing lack of transparency and logic as to why WJWW would be looking to swap its own land with the county in order to build in a less-desirable location with respect to environmental impact, environmental risks (9 million NYC residents who rely on the safety and purity of the Kensico Watershed for its water,) noise, traffic and historical preservation”

WJWW Manager Paul Kutzky says a New York City DEP “confirm(s) that the construction of the Filtration Plant at the County Parcel will not harm the Kensico Reservoir, and will have no stormwater impact on downstream properties.”

The Purchase Environmental Protection Association (PEPA) has circulated a petition and written to the County urging the Legislative body to vote no. And many residents say the wooded area is their only buffer from the noise at the airport.

But a spokeswoman for WJWW says direct traffic access to Purchase Street is more favorable. The site WJWW owns, on the other hand, which was vetted and deforested for this project years ago, has access to Purchase Street only through a residential side street. The site is also closer to the reservoir.

“This is a project that will make sure clean drinking water for 100,000 Westchester residents for generations,” says Mamaroneck Mayor Tom Murphy, who is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of WJWW.  “It will also save Harrison, Town of Mamaroneck and the Village of Mamaroneck from crippling fines.”

Furthermore, Murphy says, “There will be no disturbing of the Quakers or other historic properties, those are red herrings.”

Jane Olsen, who serves as Trustee for the Purchase Friends (Quaker) Meeting, writes, “What is at stake here is further transformation of a lovely, wooded residential area into something that more closely resembles the environs of LaGuardia or JFK airports. The forest next to our meeting house is one of the last natural buffers between the residential areas and the activity of the airport.”

Says Mayor Murphy, building the plant and getting the swap approved is a priority. “Weigh that against the wants of … some extremely well-heeled neighbors and doing the right thing should be an easy decision.”

 

 

Polly Kreisman
Polly Kreisman
Polly Kreisman founded and began publishing theLoop in 2007. She is a 15-time Emmy Award winning former television reporter. In New York she worked at WPIX TV, WWOR TV, WNBC TV and NY1. She covered politics on Capitol Hill in Washington DC earlier in her career. For the past several years she has pursued professional acting roles in film, television and commercials. She is the mother of twins and two baldly behaved dogs, and lives in Larchmont.

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Roger
Roger
July 13, 2023 9:44 PM

These so called environmentalists need to take a step back and look at what they’ve done here. Stop getting in the way of cleaner drinking water.

Build the plant. Many of the folks trying to argue to build the plant at the first location are the very ones that sued to stop that construction there in the first place. Stop this nonsense. All you’re accomplishing by throwing up these constant roadblocks is preventing people from drinking cleaner water.

Susan Z
Susan Z
July 13, 2023 12:26 AM

The quality of our drinking water is very important to me, my family, and our neighbors. I respect that some folks may not be thrilled about having this plant close to them, but the NIBY-ism here that’s been blocking this project for decades is getting ridiculous.

The statements here about the other site are also very misleading and mis-represent basic facts. For example, yes another site was “studied” that WWJW owns and those studies concluded it was not the ideal location. The NY Supreme Court just considered the matter and question of if the alternative site was appropriately considered and the court ruled it was. The court fully dismissed all the claims by those suggesting something was amiss with the environmental review. The arguments about not building the plant because it might impact the water quality of the reservoir are approaching the absurd. First, all the environmental agencies responsible that reviewed this ultimately disagreed with that mindset and gave the go-ahead. Second, the whole point of this plant is to improve the water quality. The thing hurting our water quality right now is not building this plant.

This has been going on far too long. Those getting in the way are hurting the quality of the water we drink. It’s time. Build the plant.

Editor
Editor
July 12, 2023 11:33 AM

Last month, Westchester Joint Water Works included a flyer with the water bills, which contained “certain” claims regarding opposition to the construction of a water filtration plant. In response, all the signatories collaborated to draft this joint statement posted below, to express our unwavering support for building the plant on its original site, which is already owned by Westchester Joint Water Works.  Statement In Support of WJWW Building a Water Treatment Facility On The Land they Already Own June, 2023 We, the undersigned, strongly support the building of a water treatment facility by the Westchester Joint Water Works (WJWW) as soon as feasible. However, we also strongly believe that the plant should be built on the property the WJWW already owns, which is outside of the Kensico Reservoir watershed.WJWW’s property was already prepped for construction over a decade ago.WJWW, the County Executive, and the Board of Legislators received written assurances almost a year ago that the owner of the property adjacent to their land supports building the plant on the original site without objection or condition.The FEIS which WJWW submitted in 2022 shows no compelling reason for building on the County’s forested property, which is in the Kensico Reservoir watershed and has long been identified as an important Clean Water Buffer Area, in preference over the one they already own. So why does the WJWW continue to press for the County to swap land? We encourage WJWW to stop wasting time and ratepayers’ money in their efforts to persuade Westchester County to swap land with them. The plant is required by federal mandate and should be built expeditiously on the land WJWW has owned for decades. Signed:
Purchase Environmental Protective Association (PEPA), 501©3 Established 1914Purchase Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Established in Purchase in 1727Purchase Street Neighbors Working GroupThe Coalition to Prevent Westchester Airport ExpansionLower Hudson Group of Sierra ClubMichael Tokarz, Principal, Sylvan Development Corporation  BACKGROUND
Westchester Joint Water Works is moving ahead to remove over 6 acres of forest and build a massive plant when they do not own the land they propose to build on. The land is currently a green space and important Water Quality Buffer Area (per all past Westchester County elected officials and Administrations – so why not the current ones?) at the Westchester County Airport and subject to a “land swap” or land sale that would need to be approved by the FAA and the Westchester County Board of Legislators in the future.
Please call or write your legislator and the County Executive and say you want this Westchester County Land to be preserved in perpetuity as the Important Water Quality Buffer Area and Green Space that it has always (always!) been. They say they are “environmentally responsible” so they need to prove this by standing up for the Kensico Reservoir, and for one of the last few mature forests standing in that area, This forest is especially important as it is at least 44% native trees and a whole developed forest ecosystem is already there. Tell them you want to hear them speak out publicly and tell the WJWW to expeditiously build on the land they already own, and that they will NOT vote in favor of a land swap!

Jane Nicklin Olsen
Jane Nicklin Olsen
July 11, 2023 4:24 PM

This discussion is extremely important. I have decided to add the full text of my letter to the “Larchmont Loop,” which the editor quoted in the original article. There is a lot to understand, and I hope every citizen, and, in particular, every elected official, will make their greatest possible effort to be fully informed.

Dear Elected Official,
    I am a lifelong Quaker and have been a member of Purchase Friends Meeting for more than 30 years.  Currently I serve as a Trustee of the Meeting and one of its co-clerks.  Along with many members of the Meeting, I have followed the emerging plan to build a water treatment plant on the forested acreage next to our property on Purchase Street with great attention, concern, and, frankly, bewilderment. So often I hear people raise questions that start with “Why?” 

  • Why does WJWW prefer to build in the Kensico Reservoir watershed, 500 feet from the Reservoir itself, using a stream that flows directly into the Rye Lake portion of the Reservoir for discharge from its operations, when it has land and a design for a comparably effective plant in a location not in the Kensico watershed, where discharge from its operations would flow through five miles or more of natural filtration before reaching Long Island Sound? 
  • Why did the County, after decades of declining to allow the parcel on Purchase Street to be developed (stating that it needed to be preserved as a “Water Quality Buffer Area”), suddenly in 2021 agree in principal in a “Memorandum of Understanding” to move forward with a land swap that would allow a large industrial plant to be built there?
  • Why does the design for the plant have 50% greater capacity than the original design from 2008 (30 million gallons per day, rather than 20 million), and why are the plans that were submitted to the Westchester County Health Department for approval designed for a capacity of 40 million gallons per day, (which discharge quantity they state can be easily managed by the small stream behind our property that flows directly into Rye Lake) when there is no explanation for the need for that huge amount of additional water?
  • Why does Mayor Tom Murphy, one of the Trustees of the WJWW, say twice in an interview with David McKay Wilson (https://www.lohud.com/videos/news/2023/02/18/proposed-location-water-filtration-plant-purchase-questioned/11292131002/that the new plant “is good for the Airport,” and “will provide water for the Airport,” when no mention of benefit for the Airport is made in any of the Environmental Impact Statement documents, nor has the County stepped up to pay for a share of this expansion, which will be hugely costly to WJWW rate-payers?
  • Why did WJWW declare an “Emergency Response to a Critical Water System Vulnerability” on July 31, 2020, and how was that “critical vulnerability” related to the Million Air hangar’s failure to meet fire-protection code?  
  • Why does the WJWW claim that the Critical Environmental Area designation due to noise from the Airport on the Purchase Street parcel is only to discourage “noise sensitive development” (such as residential) on that parcel? In their Response to the Court, they acknowledge that, “the airport noise in the area of petitioner’s Meeting House is substantial and intrusive,” (paragraph 71), yet they ignore the fact that taking down a large majority of the mature trees in this last remaining forested land in the neighborhood will remove an important natural barrier to sound and vibration, not just for the Meeting, but for the entire neighborhood.
  • Why did the WJWW make no effort to learn the history of the impact of similar forest removal on this neighborhood in the past? In their Response to the Court (paragraph 139), they question whether the trees on this parcel are “mature,” stating (inaccurately) that “in 1993, Westchester County Airport clear-cut most of the trees.” In fact, the clear-cutting in 1993 happened on an adjacent 10-acre parcel between our cemetery and the Airport, not on the land under consideration, and the impact was devastating, as many of us remember. (I have attached the New York Times articles that covered that event, or you can ask George Latimer about it, as he was deeply involved in the community response and attempted reparations by the County).
  • Why does the fact that “58% of the land within one-half mile is comprised of the airport, transportation, and utility land uses,” (WJWW Response to the Court, p. 11), justify allocating one of the few remaining natural parcels to the same type of industrial purpose? Shouldn’t we be saying, “Only 42% of the land within ½ mile remains residential or undeveloped, and that forested parcel is an important piece of that 42%”?  
  • Why does the WJWW, through published broadsides and statements by its leadership, promote the false assertions that the Quakers and others oppose clean water and the construction of this necessary plant, when we and all of those they point to actually support the construction of this plant as expeditiously as possible on the original site that is owned already by the WJWW?

On top of the unnecessary risk to the water supply for 9 million people, what is at stake here is further transformation of a lovely, wooded residential area into something that more closely resembles the environs of LaGuardia or JFK airports.   The forest next to our meeting house is one of the last natural buffers between the residential areas and the activity of the airport.

In addition, there is a deeply disturbing lack of transparency in the evolution of the plans and the decision-making process that have brought us to this point.  Clearly, the needs of the Airport for water, both present and especially future, are important, undisclosed, motivations in these decisions. Moreover, there appears to be a reason why the County finds the land swap to be a useful opportunity for the Airport, which is, again, undisclosed and unexamined. Why otherwise would they have suddenly agreed to it, when they had consistently refused in the past? Could it have something to do with the location of the parcel they would acquire next to the proposed site for Million Air’s expansion?

We at Purchase Meeting hope to continue this conversation. Once the water treatment facility is built, there will be no undoing the damage, so this decision must be made with absolute clarity and transparency, with fully-informed awareness of the justifications and the consequences.  Answering these “why” questions is critical to bringing that necessary clarity and complete transparency to this important decision-making process.  

Respectfully,
   Jane Nicklin Olsen
 
               

Nancy K
Nancy K
July 6, 2023 6:51 AM

Larchmont residents are supplied water by WJWW, but that unfiltered water comes from NYC’s Shaft 22, not Rye Lake. Residents of Mamaroneck won’t get the filtered water from WJWW either since their supply pipes don’t extend that far. So why is WJWW spending PR money in Larchmont & Mamaroneck, suggesting that those residents will benefit from the filtration plant??

Ech tu Oy
Ech tu Oy
July 5, 2023 1:12 PM

I feel bad for the Quaker meeting house, but I don’t really understand how there is much opposition to this. It needs to happen to provide tens of thousands of residents safe drinking water; if it doesn’t happen soon there will be fines that we will all have to pay via increased utility rates; and there’s no way NYC DEP (which owns the Kensico Dam) would allow this to happen if there were any chance it would harm the water quality. Our water is the best-tasting and safest water in the world.

David De Lott
David De Lott
July 5, 2023 9:50 PM
Reply to  Ech tu Oy

The opposition isn’t to building the plant, it’s to not building it on the land that WJWW already owns versus swapping that land to build on a less desirable site. WJWW is presenting the issue as opposition to building the plant, which is not the case.

Editor
Editor
July 5, 2023 11:28 PM
Reply to  Ech tu Oy

The WJWW was granted the lead agency of their own SEQRA  process which is like having the coyote guard the chicken house. The NYC DEP actually wrote 2 very strongly worded responses opposing the building of the Water Treatment Facility (WTF) at the proposed location in the Kensico Reservoir’s watershed, only 500 feet uphill from the banks of the Rye Lake portion.  Because WJWW was the lead agency to their own proposal the DEP actually had no power to stop it once the WJWW approved their own FEIS. Once the FEIS was approved the DEP was required to issue the required permit if their SWPPP checked off all the required boxes, which with the millions they spent for engineers (at rate payers expense) was guaranteed. Engineers writing up SWPPP’s is a lot less intensive than designing a ship, say the titanic, or an underwater submersible (Titan) and accidents could still definitely happen.   Getting a permit from DEP after the FEIS was approved was par for the course and did not mean that DEP approved of them building in the Kensico Watershed, issuing the permit was required of them.  To find a copy of the DEP responses opposing this Water Treatment Facility being constructed at the proposed site go to http://WWW.SaveOurWatersheds.org (the website in it’s infancy and currently being developed, but the DEP responses are there after you click on Kensico).  

The WJWW ignored many other opposing responses as well, which you will see if you go to read thru the comment section of the FEIS (the 2022 FEIS is also at the http://www.SaveOurWatersheds.org website).  This is not at all about the Quaker meeting house, this is about protecting our source of water, and a very important last mature forest ecosystem with 44% native trees which is an important green and water quality buffer area that protects the reservoir.  The County had refused any construction on this part of the airport property thru several prior administrations because they considered this land that the WJWW now wants to build on an Important Water Quality Buffer Area (you can see this in writing in the FEIS that the DEP did for their own land in 2008 on 4-10).  

Do some research and you will see that the WJWW stopped the construction in 2006 because they were on a dual  track: they were both going forward with a SEQRA process on the land they bought to build the WTF and even completed an FEIS for it in 2008, at the same time trying to get a Filtration Avoidance Determination (FAD) from the EPA and the Department of Health.  They failed to get the FAD because of the water’s turbidity, which led to too much organic matter which led to high HHAs.  The reason there is high turbidity and high organic matter is because the DEP did not or was not able to protect the land surrounding the Kensico the same way as they were able to protect the land around the Cat/Del reservoir area. Had the Kensico been better protected all along then a $170 million dollar chemical treatment facility would not now have to be built, and the WJWW customers will not soon have to pay 50-75% water rate increases.  These rate increases of 50-75% are what the WJWW projects will be coming down the pike and which are stated in the 2022 FEIS for land that they gambled they would get in a potential land swap. However, these coming rate increases may be over 100%.

The WJWW has a $125,000 budget just for PR alone, to convince people that they need to have the airport property to build a WTF, even though they know this is completely untrue. All they need to do is convince you that it is true.  The fact is that the WJWW already owns a perfectly good site for this that is out of the Kensico watershed and offers no threat to any body of water and won’t destroy yet another forest (they already took down a forest on the land they own and put down vegetative matts so they won’t grow back).  They are being threatened with fines because they failed to continue the construction in 2008, failed in their attempt to get a FAD, and now started this despicable approach.  They have no good reason for delaying building the WTF by waiting for a land swap, which has to be approved by our County legislators and CE, which we sincerely hope they will not approve!  The FAA also has to approve this land swap.  This is all time consuming!  We kept wondering why they would want to swap land to begin with, and wouldn’t just build where they own, which would have been expeditious.  Then we realized they are cutting deals with the County, and if the County does the swap then the County will be able to expand the airport at a strategic location.  They don’t say it is for airport expansion, but the elected officials who say they are against airport expansion are attending parties held by Million Air and drinking champaign with them even though Million Air is in litigation with our County because they want to build yet another private jet hangar.  It is all a great big show for them.  Don’t be their puppet.  The airport is 84% used by private jets…it is not really the airport of the masses but the airport of the Million Airs.

Be a concerned citizen.  Once you take the time to learn what is really going on you will be really pissed at the WJWW and at the County administration.  This is your tax dollars and water rates they are playing with.  You, the rate payer and tax payer,  are getting the raw deal while the Million Airs of this world are getting 10-20 million gallons a day  of water without having to pay for the increased price that a  33-100% increase to the size of the facility capacity creates.  The water rates will likely increase way over the 50-75% they project, perhaps being well over 100%, because not only are they building a 33-100% increase in capacity, but they will also have to build a separate building to remove the PFAS that was discovered in the area (yet another reason why NOT to do construction on the proposed site!).  Also they secretly provided engineering plans to the County Health department showing they really want to build it to 40 mgd, though they buried this within the FEIS in only a couple of spots while portraying this as a 30 mgd facility; public comment was on the 30 mgd, so they subverted the whole purpose of the law insisting on a comment section by creating a false portrayal of their plan.  You will be paying for all these huge projects too!  

Any citizen who writes in support of this swap is being snowed by the high priced PR firm stories and the elected official puppets who tell these stories.  All the citizens of Westchester and NYC will be crying to the heavens when their taxes and water rates go up, and many will cry when the airport expands, but meanwhile these same citizens could have prevented this by becoming truly informed and joining the protest against this contrived land swap.  Your County CE and legislator needs to hear many (many!) protests from the people who vote for them, and to know that we know what they are doing.  We know that they are planting seeds now for future airport expansion at the expense of our water resource stability being put at great risk in perpetuity.  We know that the legislators that support this are doing so because they got their orders from the party leadership, not because they are truly knowledgable about what is happening.  Party leadership has chosen the Million Airs of Westchester over you. Tell them what you think about this. Tell them you want this proposed site to continue to be the Important Water Quality Buffer Area that past administrations protected it for, and they should finish the job the prior administrations started by making it permanently protected with a conservation easement! Tell the WJWW to build their WTF expeditiously on the land they already own!

Jane Nicklin Olsen
Jane Nicklin Olsen
July 6, 2023 3:33 PM
Reply to  Ech tu Oy

Yes, this does need to happen! The Quakers agree! They just believe it’s a mistake to build it where the run-off from construction and operations will flow directly into the Kensico Reservoir, sometimes at a projected possible rate of 40 million gallons per day, according to WJWW engineers. The WJWW has never given any compelling reasons for moving their plans to construct a water treatment plant from the land they already own to this new parcel on Purchase Street, which belongs to the County. The NYC DEP (which is responsible for the reservoirs that serve 9 million New Yorkers) has stated that WJWW has NOT proven any compelling reason to build in the Kensico watershed, but, because WJWW is its own lead agency, they have little power to stop them. WJWW’s own land is ready and waiting; the enormous delay results from their abandoning the original plan to build the facility on their own property and maneuvering to acquire this piece of County land instead.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jane Nicklin Olsen
Joe
Joe
July 3, 2023 11:49 AM

Our water tastes like chlorine most of the time and is unsafe. This plant needs to be built ASAP.

Leslie
Leslie
July 4, 2023 9:18 PM
Reply to  Joe

It is a chemical treatment plant and will have 57,000 (thousand!) gallons of chemicals on site for the chemical treatment of the water. It will still taste like chlorine after it is built.

David De Lott
David De Lott
July 5, 2023 9:55 PM
Reply to  Joe

I couldn’t agree more. However, it should be built on the site WJWW owns and has already cleared countless trees for. Not a new, pristine, wooded location which would require yet thousands more trees to be destroyed.

leslie
leslie
June 25, 2023 11:33 PM

This forest that the WJWW wants to swap for (and destroy) to build a massive industrial facility is the same forest prior Westchester County administrations insisted for decades needed to be protected as an Important Water Quality Buffer Area for the Kensico Reservoir. The only thing that has changed now is not the land, but the elected officials who are in office. It would be an embarrassment if any of our elected officials on the County level ever voted for a land swap that would destroy this forested area, especially as there is perfectly suitable land for the WJWW to build a Water Treatment Facility on that they already own, already completed an FEIS for, and already destroyed a forest on when they began construction there. 

Please Westchester County Administrators: Tell the WJWW to build out of the Kensico Reservoir on the land they already own, instead of trying to build a massive industrial facility only 500 feet uphill from our Reservoir.

Important to note is that once the new EPA PFAS standards are adopted the WJWW will be constructing another building near the first to filter out the PFAS. They also have plans to increase the size of the filter plant 100% to 40 mgd to give the airport even more water than the 33% increase to 30 mgd will already be providing. These increases were not disclosed in the FEIS they did for the land next to the Reservoir and it makes the environmental impact on the area even worse, and yet not examined in the FEIS though they are required by law to take a hard look at these impacts.

Please Westchester County elected officials, we need you to protect our reservoir. Lessons should be learned by the Titan and Titanic: engineering cannot overcome all possible accidents. It is a choice between putting our Reservoir in perpetual risk vs perpetually protected thru a conservation easement. 

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David De Lott
David De Lott
June 23, 2023 10:36 PM

The only “red herrings” here are Mayor Murphy’s comments, which continue to fail to adequately state or address why WJWW is not building this plant on its own property, which has already been deforested and vetted, versus swapping that land for a pristine piece of land which would need to be deforested from scratch, destroying countless trees, removing the last barrier between the airport and the residential area of Purchase Street, and potentially endangering the safety of the Kensico Watershed and the drinking water for millions of people.

David De Lott
David De Lott
June 25, 2023 9:32 AM
Reply to  David De Lott

Attached is my full letter to Mr. Latimer excerpted in this article for those interested. Thanks for your support!

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Editor
Editor
June 23, 2023 7:28 PM

The majority of protesters are not “well heeled” just “well informed”. The WJWW has paid $125,000 to a PR firm to come up with a reasonable story to convince you what they are doing is OK. This cost on PR, and millions of dollars spent on doing a full SEQRA review on land they don’t even own or have assurances that they can swap will be paid for by rate payers.

By their own 2022 FEIS they admit that rate payers will soon have to pay increases of 50-75%. The Department of Environmental Protection(DEP) wrote two strongly worded responses against them building on this site in the Kensico Reservoir Watershed, especially as they want to build only 500 linear feet uphill from the banks of the Rye Lake portion on soil that has questionable toxins which should not be disturbed; build 35 feet down into the aquifer which can increase the flow of PFAS into the reservoir; and dump storm water into a small intermittent stream that also goes into the reservoir and could increase turbidity and bacteria in the reservoir.

DEP had no choice but to issue permits once the lead agency accepted the FEIS. Guess who was the lead agency who got to approve their own FEIS, thereby allowed to ignore the comments from the DEP and many others? The WJWW was entrusted with Lead agency status (fox was allowed to guard the hen house), and then chose to approve what they wrote, despite the many well thought out complaints against the project.

The WJWW never took a hard look at the necessary concerns. WJWW fails to mention that they already own land that is outside of the Reservoir’s watershed, and miles from doing any harm to the Reservoir or any other large body of water. In 2008 they completed a full FEIS for this land, already took down a forest there and covered it with vegetative mats so trees couldn’t grow back, and began construction there. Then they decided to first try to get a Filtration Avoidance Determination (FAD) but ultimately failed.

Ask them the real reason they want to swap lands with the airport. Ask them why they want to increase the millions of gallons per day from 20 mgd to 30-40 mgd when the population studies don’t support this? Could it be to help the airport? The airport which serves 84% private users? Perhaps a plan to expand the airport further in the years to come? Ask the WJWW how many will really receive the treated water.

Most of the ratepayers from the Town and Village of Mamaroneck, and some rate payers living in Harrison, will be paying the increases but will never receive the treated water. Why does the water need to be treated to begin with? Because the Kensico Reservoir was not protected enough so there were issues which the health dept and EPA could not ignore. This area they now propose to build on was, by their own admission in their 2008 FEIS, not made available to them because the County administrations for years considered this an important Water Quality Buffer Area.

Ask your legislator and the County Executive why it wouldn’t still be an important Water Quality Buffer Area? Nothing has changed but who your elected officials are. Ask them to finish the job started in past administrations and make this important land inside of the airport and near the Kensico Reservoir permanently protected with a Conservation Easement.

Want to learn more? Write to us at KensicoWatershedProtection@gmail.com and be invited to upcoming events, both hybrid and in person with refreshments and knowledgable people. Choose documented and true information over a Public Relations firm’s version.

• C O M M U N I T Y • C A L E N D A R •

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