Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

82% Want Tanks at Reservoir

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

82% Want Tanks at Reservoir

Article excerpt

Thousands of respondents overwhelmingly approved of a plan to replace a Garret Mountain reservoir with huge water tanks in a survey that critics on Wednesday dismissed as misleading, in part because it failed to mention several viable alternatives.

The Passaic Valley Water Commission on Wednesday released results of the survey in its effort to win public backing for its plan to drain the open-air Stanley M. Levine Reservoir in Paterson and replace it with water tanks. The reservoir lies on the border with the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park.

The commission is under federal order to protect the water from contamination by animal waste by covering the reservoir, building plants to re-treat the water, or storing treated water in tanks.

Most of the 4,849 respondents said the water at the Levine reservoir shouldn't be stored in an open reservoir and favored proceeding with the agency's plan to build tanks, according to survey results presented by a consultant at the water commission's monthly meeting.

If the commission had hoped the survey would soften criticism that it had not solicited enough public input in plans that originally involved draining three Garret Mountain reservoirs, the immediate response of its opponents wasn't promising.

The process was "designed from the start to elicit a predetermined outcome," said Bob Guarasci, the head of the Paterson- based New Jersey Community Development Corp. "This was more a push poll than a legitimate survey because it omitted many salient facts."

Among them, he said, the survey didn't mention an option to decommission the reservoirs and instead draw water from the Wanaque Reservoir. The survey also underplayed the adverse impact of the water tanks on the nearby Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, Guarasci said, and it conveyed a misleading impression that whenever a ratepayer turns on the faucet, the water comes from the reservoir when it does so only rarely. …

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