NEW PALTZ – The Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO) at SUNY New Paltz this week released its seventh Discussion Brief, Water Conservation and Long-term Water Supply Planning in the Hudson Valley: A Rockland County Case Study.
Authors Stuart Braman (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory) and Simon Gruber (CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities) begin with the apparent paradox that though the Hudson Valley has an abundance of water Rockland County faces a water shortage. This circumstance is the result of land use decisions taken over many decades in the face of massive growth pressures. Responding to the shortage now, they argue, requires managing the complex interaction of four factors: home rule, fragmented state regulation, no access to a key regional resource (the New York City water supply system), and reliance on a private water supplier, United Water of New York.
The authors conclude, “The inability of a private actor to compel public behavior to conserve water, the powerful commitment in New York to home rule in land use decision making, and the highly diffuse and decentralized nature of local governmental authority make it very difficult to develop systematic, comprehensive approaches to regional water policy. In addition, profit-making private companies, responsible to stock holders, are likely to be less considerate of citizen priorities in policy choices. Just as this case demonstrates the need for an integrated state approach, it shows the importance of finding means to induce collective local action to assure the well-being of local communities and ecosystems.”
Gerald Benjamin, CRREO Director and Associate Vice President for Regional Engagement, stated, “Water issues, and the need for regional water policy planning is becoming a primary focus of interest for CRREO. This essay provides essential insight into the crucial importance of giving timely systematic attention to water needs as growth occurs in the Hudson Valley, and the need to efficiently find proper balance between conservation efforts and supply management in a far too complex, fragmented decision environment. The broader implications of this work take on additional significance at a time that much of the nation is facing very challenging drought conditions.”
CRREO was established in 2007 to further engage the university and its people with communities, governments, not-for-profits, and businesses across our region. CRREO conducts and publicizes research on regional topics; creates and directs select institutes focusing on specific topics of regional interest; connects and partners with local governments, not-for-profits, and businesses to initiate reforms and advocate for best practices; contracts to assess the performance of public and not-for-profit agencies and programs; and works to foster intergovernmental collaboration and community engagement.
The CRREO Discussion Brief series focuses on regional issues, in order to inform citizens and decision makers of key public policy choices and issues in our region. Previous Discussion Briefs and more information about CRREO may be found at www.newpaltz.edu/crreo.