Westchester Joint Water Works Releases Draft Environmental Impact Statement
Westchester Joint Water Works (WJWW), a nonprofit public benefit corporation that supplies water to some 120,000 Westchester County residents, has prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for a proposed drinking water filtration plant to be built in the Town/Village of Harrison. At its April 12 board meeting, WJWW authorized the release of the DEIS for public comment and review by other public agencies.
The DEIS was prepared in accordance with the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). The document identifies and takes a hard look at the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project, including positive and negative effects to the environment, and considers project alternatives and potential measures to mitigate any negative impacts.
The DEIS was prepared by WJWW in collaboration with an expert team of environmental engineers, scientists, planners, architects, government agencies and legal specialists. The purpose of the DEIS is to consider potential environmental impacts of the proposed Rye Lake Filtration Plant project, inclusive of a land exchange with Westchester County by which WJWW would acquire 13.4 acres of land on the grounds of Westchester County Airport to build and operate a 30-million-gallon per day Dissolved Air Flotation/Filtration (DAFF) plant. The project would include construction of the building, driveway, parking lot, installation of supporting ancillary facilities, utilities including water and sewer, and stormwater management features. The proposed land exchange studied in the DEIS would also include deeding a 13.4-acre tract of nearby land owned by WJWW to Westchester County for inclusion in the airport grounds.
The DEIS includes a thorough examination of existing conditions and potential impacts in a number of areas, including wetlands and topography; land use and zoning; the Town/Village of Harrison’s Comprehensive Plan; visual resources and community character; air-quality, noise and traffic; utilities; and economic impacts. The DEIS concludes that the proposed project would comply with the use regulations of existing zoning and Harrison’s Comprehensive Plan, and that no significant adverse environmental impacts are anticipated. The DEIS identifies a number of measures to minimize and mitigate the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project and concludes that no additional mitigation measures are necessary.
Submission of the DEIS is an important step forward in the process to build the plant to provide filtration for WJWW’s raw water source at Rye Lake. In accordance with the New York State Department of Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency orders, the plant is mandatory for WJWW to comply with surface water treatment requirements and control harmful levels of disinfection by-products, including haloacetic acids, or HAA5. The filtration plant would have the capacity to filter the maximum day water supply demand of WJWW’s entire water distribution system.
Traces of HAA5 have been detected in the Rye Lake water supply system. HAA5 compounds are a common by-product of the water disinfection process, as they form when chlorine reacts with naturally occurring organic matter in untreated surface water from the Rye Lake source.
Chlorine is the most commonly used disinfectant among public water suppliers to kill bacteria and viruses that could cause serious illnesses. Filtering the water is a proven treatment to remove organic matter and thereby reduce the formation of HAA5 compounds. Long-term exposure to high levels of HAA5 has been linked to an increased risk for cancer.
WJWW has scheduled a public hearing on the DEIS for May 25, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. at the Town of Mamaroneck Town Center Court Room, 2nd floor, 740 West Boston Post Road, Mamaroneck, NY 10543. WJWW will accept written comments on the DEIS until June 6, 2022 by mail to Westchester Joint Water Works at 1625 Mamaroneck Avenue, Mamaroneck, NY 10543 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Entrusted with providing safe drinking water to the public, Westchester Joint Water Works understands the urgency to build a water filtration plant for the health and safety of the people we serve,” said Paul Kutzy, WJWW Manager. “We also are sensitive to protecting the environment, and as we move forward we will work closely with our team of professionals to ensure the process is conducted in the most careful, effective and efficient manner. We welcome all questions and comments as part of our thorough environmental review of this critical project.”
For information about the water filtration plant and the SEQRA process, visit wjwwfiltration.org.
Westchester Joint Water Works (WJWW) is a nonprofit public benefit corporation formed in 1927 by its three member municipalities: the Village of Mamaroneck, the Town of Mamaroneck, and the Town/Village of Harrison pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 654, Laws of 1927, State of New York to acquire, construct and provide a joint water works. WJWW supplies water to its member municipalities and to portions of the cities of Rye and New Rochelle, serving 59,629 consumers through 14,682 service connections. WJWW also supplies water on a wholesale basis to the Village of Larchmont and Suez Water Westchester, which supplies water to the City of Rye, Village of Rye Brook and Village of Port Chester, which collectively represent approximately another 60,000 consumers.