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Protesters call on United Water to control Pascack Valley flooding

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A quartet of floods over a little more than three months this year destroyed hot water heaters, furnaces, and personal property, members of the Flood No More group said during a protest late Monday afternoon outside United Water’s Old Hook Road headquarters in Harrington Park.

The scene Monday on Old Hook in Harrington Park (CLIFFVIEW PILOT PHOTO)

Warnings of controlled releases of excess reservoir water by the utility before a storm have come within no longer than 15 minutes — hardly enough time to move their cars and take steps to protect their valuables — during a series of floods that began in March, the protesters said.

Even worse, they said, those releases haven’t exactly been controlled but more like torrents.

“United Water has more allegiance to their stockholders than their customers,” said one woman, standing in the afternoon heat, about a half-hour after nearly five dozen protestors showed up with homemade signs.

“Disregard is No Way to Treat a Customer” one said, as the group awaited rush hour, when motorists would be pouring down Old Hook Road (EDITOR’S NOTE: Although some droplets hit the Valley at 5:40 p.m., no major storm emerged.)

United Water is operating under state-approved procedures, a utility spokeswoman said.

“It is difficult living in a flood zone,” United’s Deborah Rizzi said, but the company has an obligation to “protect the integrity of the water supply and the integrity of the dam.”

For some time now, Hillsdale & Westwood residents have peppered government officials at all levels with emails, letters and phone calls seeking relief.

Off the top, they want United Water to bring down the level of the Woodcliff Lake Reservoir and to give earlier warning when levels are adjusted during storms. These would be stop-gap measures until the utility devices long-term solutions, they said. 

Assemblyman Bob Schroeder has been working with Pascack Valley residents and the mayors of Hillsdale, River Vale and Westwood to try and come up with solutions that satisfy all sides. Scheoder co-sponsored a bill, approved by the state Assembly, that seeks to create a bi-state flood commission, which would coordinate the efforts for all improvements and changes to the waterways shared by New York & New Jersey.


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