The Earth Institute

The Earth Institute



Rockland County Water:

Enough for Future Growth?

Sunday, April 22, 2010


Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, NY

The population of Rockland County, N.Y., is growing steadily. Can its water supply keep up? The U.S. Geological Survey has finished a five-year study of the county’s water resources, and the results will be presented at a public lecture on Sunday. Since 1970, Rockland water use has grown 60 percent, to over 30 million gallons a day. In recent years, shortages have occurred during summer, and in 2005, many streams feeding the underground aquifer dried up. The aquifer provides a third of the county’s water, supplementing Lake DeForest and well fields near the Ramapo River. Added development would increase the demand, and as more land gets paved, less soil may be available to absorb rainfall and recharge the aquifer. Because bedrock aquifers recharge fairly quickly, contamination is also a concern, especially as development grows. United Water is proposing to handle Rockland’s rising water demand by building a desalination plant that would draw water from the Hudson River.


3pm-4 pm

Paul Heisig, hydrologist, USGS, discusses results of the five-year study.

4 pm-5 pm

A panel of Earth Institute scientists discusses their work on local water issues.

Brad Lyon, climatologist of the Lamont-based International Research Institute for Climate and Society, will discuss a study of past rainfall records that found development is driving Rockland’s water shortages.

Martin Stute, hydrologist, Lamont-Doherty, will discuss research on Rockland’s recharge rate and what this means for watershed management.

Steven Chillrud, geochemist, Lamont-Doherty, will discuss research on arsenic contamination of Rockland’s groundwater.

Stuart Braman, research scientist, Lamont-Doherty, will discuss Rockland residential water use and opportunities for conservation.

Moderator: Meredith Golden, a researcher at the Lamont-based Center for International Earth Science Information Network.

Background: Water Resources in Rockland County


Please RSVP: Kim Martineau 845-365-8708

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The Earth Institute, Columbia University mobilizes the sciences, education and public policy to achieve a sustainable earth. Through interdisciplinary research among more than 500 scientists in diverse fields, the Institute is adding to the knowledge necessary for addressing the challenges of the 21st century and beyond. With over two dozen associated degree curricula and a vibrant fellowship program, the Earth Institute is educating new leaders to become professionals and scholars in the growing field of sustainable development. We work alongside governments, businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals to devise innovative strategies to protect the future of our planet.

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a member of The Earth Institute, is one of the world's leading research centers seeking fundamental knowledge about the origin, evolution and future of the natural world. More than 300 research scientists study the planet from its deepest interior to the outer reaches of its atmosphere, on every continent and in every ocean. From global climate change to earthquakes, volcanoes, nonrenewable resources, environmental hazards and beyond, Observatory scientists provide a rational basis for the difficult choices facing humankind in the planet's stewardship.