West Group Law Attorneys Played Key Role

Created in 1963, the Rockland County Sewer District No. 1 (the District) primarily serves New York’s Rockland County communities of Ramapo and Clarkstown and several parcels in the Town of Orangetown. Located within an hour’s driving time of New York City, Rockland County saw explosive population growth after 1950, as the construction of the Palisades Parkway, the Tappan Zee Bridge and other highway enhancements led to rapid suburban expansion. Its 1950 population of 89,000 had risen to more than 265,000 by 1990. To meet the resulting growth in wastewater volumes, the District’s sewer treatment plant, originally constructed to treat 10 million gallons per day (MGD), expanded in the mid-1980s to treat 28.9 MGD. In 2000, the District’s boundaries were extended to provide sewer services to the Villages of Sloatsburg and Hillburn and the unsewered western portion of the Town of Ramapo. To provide sewer services to these areas, the District needed to construct a minimum 1.5 MGD advanced wastewater treatment plant (AWTP), as well as the sewer lines, four pump stations, and force mains required to service the new facility. The District desired to build a wastewater treatment plant with a design capacity of 1.5 – 5 MGD with the primary objective of providing sewer services to these new areas, while also protecting the Western Ramapo River Watershed. The Watershed serves as the primary source of water supply for residents of Rockland County and northern New Jersey. In addition, the District sought to process and treat wastewater received to near drinking water quality standards, a higher standard than required by law, to produce effluent acceptable for recharging the Watershed. With an estimated construction cost of over $50 million with the traditional design-bid-build procurement model, the District sought a more cost effective solution. Faced with this significant undertaking, the District turned to West Group Law’s attorneys to assist the District in its deliberations on the legal, financial and structural options that would best serve their purposes.

With the effective legal counsel and business acumen of the attorneys from West Group Law, the District completed construction of the first New York municipal wastewater DBO project in August 2010. Today, the system is fully operational, providing needed sewer services to previously underserved areas of the County, treating wastewater to near drinking water quality standards, and recharging the Western Ramapo River Watershed. With a final project cost of approximately $45 million for the AWTP, the DBO method produced significant cost savings for the District compared with anticipated project costs using the traditional design-bid-build method. Moreover, by privatizing the operation and maintenance of the AWTP, and utilizing the specialized and experienced employees of private operator, the District was also able to obtain significant cost savings moving forward. Overall, the use of an alternative delivery method, coupled with innovative funding mechanisms, allowed the District, through its collaboration with West Group Law attorneys, to improve its wastewater system and achieve its stated objectives. West Group Law attorneys continue to represent the District with legal issues under the DBO agreement, as well as for the expansion of the District’s sanitary sewer system, construction claims, consent order negotiations and general litigation matters.