Quakers of the Purchase Friends Meeting File Suit
Challenging Water Filtration Plant Location in New York City Watershed:
The Size and Impacts of the Facility are Not Justified
An Article 78 lawsuit was filed today in Westchester County Supreme Court by the Quaker religious organization in Purchase, New York.
It challenges the environmental review findings for the Westchester Joint Water Work’s (WJWW) proposed Rye Lake Filtration Plant. The proposal seeks to construct a 30 million gallons per day treatment facility without demonstrating why the choice of a facility of such size is necessary, and which will increase ratepayer’s rates between 50 and 75 percent per year. It also does not adequately demonstrate what impacts it will have on the community near the proposed site and throughout the Westchester County service area for WJWW.
The Petition argues that the review did not fully consider potential adverse environmental impacts related to open space, community impacts, community plans, historical impacts, growth inducing impacts, socio-economic impacts, and a full consideration of alternatives to the proposal as required by law.
The Petition argues that WJWW’s actions have not met its statutory environmental review obligations in this case, resulting in a review of the proposed project that has failed to mitigate significant adverse impacts from the proposed action.
The Review documents show that a “hard look” at impacts was not taken as required by law, and raises questions about why the proposed facility was moved to this location from a nearby previously approved location for a facility, while the new proposal also increased the capacity of the plant by 50%, without valid explanation. Additionally, even the New York City Department of Environmental Protection submitted comments indicating that the WJWW did not provide a compelling reason for moving the project into the watershed area that is part of the system that provides drinking water to millions of New Yorkers living in NYC and Westchester County.
The WJWW draws part of its supply from from Rye Lake, which is a portion of the Kensico Reservoir, and sends it to customers in parts of Harrison, Rye Brook, Port Chester and Rye with very little, if any, to the Village of Mamaroneck, Town of Mamaroneck and the Village of Larchmont. The WJWW is required to filter the water for drinking purposes by the USEPA and by Court Order, but the size and scope of the facility have been left to them.
The Purchase Friends Meeting is the Quaker organization with its meeting house adjacent to the Critical Environmental Area buffering the Westchester County Airport, where the proposed facility would be constructed.
Purchase Meeting Friend Nancy Kraus of New Rochelle said:
One of our Quaker testimonies is care of the earth. We already live in a fragile environment. Locating and constructing an industrial-size building in the Kensico watershed, only 500 linear feet uphill from the shore of Rye Lake seems foolish when the Westchester Joint Water Works already owns a parcel of land that is tucked away behind the county airport and is not in the Kensico watershed.
Purchase Meeting Friend Ed Doty of Pelham said:
Construction was already starting at the original site about 14 years ago, and they already removed a large number of trees from there, and covered them with vegetation mats so they haven’t grown back. They still own that land, and that’s where they should build the filtration plant – outside of the Kensico reservoir watershed – so our water is protected.
The review was led by the WJWW and conducted under the State Environmental Quality Review Act which requires all environmental impacts be fully considered and significant impacts be minimized to the maximum extent practicable.
Ex. A – Copy of the Original FEIS
Ex. B – DEP Letter dated May 26, 2022
Ex. C – DEP Letter dated October 10, 2022
Contact your legislator https://giswww.westchestergov.com/ElectedOfficials/index.html
Contact the County Executive his e-mail address at [email protected] or by phone at (914) 995-2900.Contact the New York times at Contact Us – Help (nytimes.com)