Clean Water, Healthy Families, Good Jobs Campaign Brings Together Environment, Labor & Business Groups to Call for Expanded Investment in Water Infrastructure
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 2, 2022
New Brunswick, NJ – The Clean Water, Healthy Families, Good Jobs campaign announced today a historic coalition including labor, environmental organizations and business groups to call for expanded investment in water infrastructure. The U.S. EPA estimates that New Jersey will require $8.5 billion over the next 20 years for drinking water projects and $17.5 billion over the next 20 years for clean water projects, for a total of at least $26 billion.
New Jersey is receiving $1 billion over five years from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and should commit an additional $1.2 billion in funding from its share of American Rescue Plan funds to ensure every community has affordable, safe drinking water, clean waterways and flood protection.
“New Jersey has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve the quality of life and health of New Jersey families by making a bold commitment to upgrading aging drinking water lines, removing chemicals like PFAs, fixing our combined sewer systems and more,” said Mo Kinberg, Program Manager at New Jersey Future. “This proposal builds on the solid steps taken by the Murphy administration and will make New Jersey a national leader in ensuring clean water for healthy, thriving communities,” added Chris Sturm, Managing Director of Policy and Water at New Jersey Future.
New Jersey’s aging water infrastructure is in urgent need of extensive upgrades. “When we turn on the tap, water comes out and then disappears down the drain, so we don’t think too much about it,” said Dan Kennedy, Senior Director at the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association (UTCA) of NJ. “The pipes that carry water to and from our homes and businesses are in bad shape,” Kennedy continued. “Kids in too many areas don’t have access to safe drinking water free from lead and chemicals like PFAS, and our sewers are outdated and over-capacity due to increased flow from increasingly extreme weather.”
Aging water infrastructure is costly for New Jersey. 130 million gallons of treated drinking water are lost per day to leaky pipes, flooding resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in damage last year alone, and lead-contaminated drinking water has caused immeasurable damage to the health of children, especially in some of the state’s most vulnerable communities.
“The broad nature of this coalition–labor, environment, and business–speaks volumes to the fact that the benefits of accelerating investment in water infrastructure are universal,” said Ciro Scalera, Director of Government Relations for the NJ Laborers Union – Labor-Management Trust Fund. “Our members depend on clean drinking water just like everyone else, but more than that, this is an opportunity to grow high-quality jobs here in New Jersey,” Scalera continued. “Making these investments is a win-win.”
“Clean drinking water and infrastructure is foundationally critical for New Jersey’s economy,” said Ray Cantor, Vice President of Government Affairs for NJBIA. “Increased investment in infrastructure demonstrates a real commitment to the health of New Jersey’s economy,” he continued.
“Let’s face it, expanded investment in water infrastructure is needed across New Jersey, but there are some communities that are especially vulnerable to flooding, lead in drinking water contamination, sewage-related overflows and a host of additional environmental and social impacts,” said Nicole Miller, Principal Consultant at MnM Consulting and co-chair of NewarkDIG (Doing Infrastructure Green). “All families deserve affordable, clean drinking water and rivers and basements free of sewage. These are basic quality-of-life considerations,” Miller continued. “New Jersey can use these funds to help build a healthier future.”
“Our cities represent some of our state’s most overburdened communities when it comes to the impact of deteriorating and aging water infrastructure,” said Barbara George Johnson, Executive Director of the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association and Vice President of External Affairs and Urban Policy and Research at Kean University’s John S. Watson Institute. “Making a big, bold investment in water infrastructure demonstrates that there is value in our communities, improves health and shows a commitment to equity and justice for all New Jersey residents,” she continued.
“When it comes down to our crumbling water infrastructure, it’s communities of color and low-income communities that suffer most. Thousands of New Jerseyans are drinking water from dangerous lead pipes, sewer and waste systems often become overwhelmed and dump raw sewage into waterways and streets, and its estimated that one in five residents struggle to keep their tap on as rates continue to rise,” said Larry Levine, Senior Attorney and Director of Urban Water Infrastructure at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “By tapping into American Rescue Plan funds now, New Jersey can super-charge generational investment in clean, affordable water for a healthier, more prosperous future.”
“Governor Murphy and the state legislature have an opportunity to make a historic investment in water infrastructure and demonstrate that New Jersey is a leader on one of the most important issues we face,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.
To learn more and sign up as an endorsing member visit www.ourwaternj.org
About the Campaign
The Clean Water, Healthy Families and Good Jobs Campaign is a coalition of diverse organizations and individuals representing the environment, labor and business.
Steering Committee Members include:
- Chris Sturm, New Jersey Future, Co-chair
- Mo Kinberg, New Jersey Future, Co-chair
- Chrissy Ballard, Association of Environmental Authorities
- Ray Cantor, NJ Business & Industry Association
- Tom Churchelow, NJ Utilities Association
- Kim Gaddy, South Ward Environmental Alliance
- Kate Gibbs, ELEC 825, Operators
- Barbara George Johnson, NJ Urban Mayors Association
- Dan Kennedy, Utility and Transportation Contractors Association
- Larry Levine, Natural Resources Defense Council
- Andy Kricun, US Water Alliance
- Nicole Miller, MnM Consulting
- Doug O’Malley, Environment New Jersey
- Ed Potosnak, NJ League of Conservation Voters
- Ciro Scalera, NJ Laborers Union – Labor-Management Trust Fund
- Cheryl Stowell, NJ SHARES