|TRENTON, NJ — On December 2, 2022, the Jersey Water Works (JWW) collaborative will convene over 200 affiliates at its eighth annual conference at The Trenton War Memorial. In attendance will be a coalition of state and local decision-makers, stakeholders, practitioners, and community members, all with the common goal of promoting resilient and healthy water in New Jersey. The conference will be a full daylong, in-person event including a keynote, featured speakers, two plenaries, three workshops, continental breakfast, and lunch.
Eight years ago, the JWW initiative was founded with the mission of collaborating to ensure New Jersey’s long-term CSO control plans would optimize environmental and community benefits, while maintaining affordability for people in affected communities. “The goal for JWW is that every resident in New Jersey has safe drinking water and clean waterways at an affordable rate,” said JWW Co-Chair Andy Kricun. JWW Co-Chair Nicole Miller added, “We need to make sure these systems are resilient against climate change and we have a diverse and equitable water workforce as well.”
At the event, there will be a keynote address from Valoria Armstrong, Chief Inclusion Officer and Vice President, External Affairs of American Water, who will discuss how to build and strengthen our water leadership pipeline. Other featured speakers include:
· Shawn M. LaTourette, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP)
· Tanuja M. Dehne, president and CEO of The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
· Reed Gusciora, mayor, City of Trenton
· Monica Shaw, community member
· Matthew J. Maffei, apprenticeship coordinator with the NJ Water Association
· Brian Valentino, executive director and chief executive officer of Western Monmouth Utilities Authority
· Tenisha Malcolm, director of the Urban Mayors Policy Center at John S. Watson Institute for Urban Policy and Research at Kean University
· David Zimmer, executive director of the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank
At the 2022 annual conference, JWW members will discuss major accomplishments of the collaborative from 2022, demonstrating how much the initiative has grown since its inception. This past year, JWW submitted comments to inform funding priorities as the state budget was announced, and stayed continually engaged with the NJDEP as they anticipated the CSO permits to be released. JWW also informed the public about water affordability assistance programs, elevated green infrastructure and the water workforce in conversations with decision-makers, and promoted climate resilience in their new task force. In October, JWW also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act and its accomplishments, while highlighting the shortcomings for overburdened environmental justice communities. These strides towards clean and affordable water align with JWW’s mission to create a resilient and healthy water system in New Jersey.
“The Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts have been very successful in bringing about safe drinking water and cleaner waterways throughout the nation. However, it is imperative that we bring the promise of these Acts, and the associated public health benefits that they provide, to environmental justice communities as well. The significant increases in funding and technical assistance are great, but we need to prioritize environmental justice communities to get them to the funding programs, and through the programs, so that they can get the funding and infrastructure improvements that they deserve. The success of the new funding programs depends on getting safe drinking water and clean waterways to environmental justice communities who have not benefited from funding in the past,” said JWW Co-Chair Andy Kricun.
The conference will also be a space to highlight the 2023 commitments of JWW members toward promoting resilient water systems through the establishment of reliable water infrastructure in New Jersey. These commitments include new projects, initiatives, and actions that will be utilized to transform New Jersey’s water infrastructure, and demonstrate JWW members’ dedication to advancing continued investment in water infrastructure, as well as the importance of supporting strong, reliable water systems. Some of the featured commitments include:
· Creation of public art centered on discussions around flooding in Camden; Camden Community Partnership
· Combined sewer overflow permit review workshops to help overburdened community members understand and advocate for finalized 5-year permits; Sewage-Free Streets and Rivers (SFSR)
· Management of the Lead Service Line (LSL) Replacement Program, with over 2,000 LSLs replaced; Ridgewood Water (Bergen County)
· A ground-breaking green hydrogen project that will generate hydrogen from wastewater effluent at ACUA’s treatment facility in Atlantic City; Atlantic County Utilities Authority
Media inquiries and requests for comment can be directed to Michael Atkins, by email or cell phone: (609) 217-5569.