Members of the Clean Water, Healthy Families, Good Jobs Campaign call for expanded water infrastructure funding during Senate budget hearing

The New Jersey Statehouse and Capitol Building In Trenton

Trenton, NJ – Members of the Clean Water, Healthy Families, Good Jobs Campaign testified in front of the Senate Budget Committee urging the State Legislature and the Murphy Administration to prioritize expanded investment in water infrastructure using remaining American Rescue Plan funds.

Ridgefield Park Commissioner Mark Olson detailed issues faced by many Bergen County municipalities, “Communities are facing enormous and unprecedented expenses. For water infrastructure upgrades without additional funding from the state, we will be facing massive rate hikes. Some of the problems include water quality, such as PFAs, or forever chemicals.”

He continued to discuss combined sewer overflows, “I’ve been a part of committees working on this [combined sewer overflows] for several years in this area. In Ridgefield Park, the estimated expense is $14 million to solve our problem. Hackensack’s is $18 million and Fort Lee’s is $127 million. These projects almost never come in on the plan. And, it’s actually early in the process to know what the right amount is.”

Kristin Epstein of Trenton Water Works detailed Trenton’s lead service line issues, “Trenton Water Works started our lead removal program early – in late 2019. Since that time our one utility has spent $50 million removing 9,000 lead-containing water lines. But, we have about 20,000 more to go – that is another $120 million more, and construction prices are rising. Divide $120 million by 10 years, that means our one utility needs to spend $12 million per year just to meet the minimum numbers of the new [lead service line] legislation.”

She continued, “The only way that Trenton Water Works will be able to afford this massive project, that is required by State of New Jersey legislation, is to raise our water rates. Yet, the City of Trenton is a disadvantaged community – you see it every time you drive into work. With job losses, inflation, and all other pressures on Trenton residents, they cannot afford one more dollar on an essential, basic need such as clean drinking water.”

Chris Sturm of New Jersey Future testified that New Jersey is facing a clean water funding gap. “New Jersey is receiving a historic $1 billion contribution from the federal government for water investments, but we still face a funding gap of $6 billion over the next five years.” Sturm continued, “This year, the Legislature has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to accelerate investment in clean water infrastructure by dedicating $1.2 billion in American Rescue Plan funding for use by community water and sewer systems to upgrade water infrastructure. Investing these additional dollars will help close the $6 billion clean water funding gap we have over the next five years.”

Tim Dillingham of the American Littoral Society highlighted the broad-based coalition that is a part of the Clean Water, Healthy Families, Good Jobs Campaign. “The Clean Water, Healthy Families, Good Jobs campaign includes labor, environmental organizations and business groups, all calling for expanding investment in water infrastructure. So, I think it’s a really strong indicator of the rightness of an issue when all these different sectors come together around a common agenda. Clean water is crucial in New Jersey’s economy, its health and its quality of life.” Dillingham went on, “We’d like to urge the legislature to prioritize the funding for the remediation of combined sewer overflows and flooding in environmental justice communities, particularly along the Delaware–cities such as Camden, Gloucester City and Trenton. Making these investments has the benefit of good jobs, contributing to the economy and making New Jersey healthier.”

Sturm concluded her remarks, “Making these investments has the benefit of creating good jobs, contributing to the New Jersey economy, and making New Jersey healthier. Clean water is the foundation upon which we can build a stronger, more affordable future for New Jersey.”

About the Clean Water, Healthy Families, Good Jobs 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

Endorsing Members

Senator Bob Smith, NJ State Senate

Amy Goldsmith, Clean Water Action

Mayor Andre Sayegh, City of Paterson

Anthony Abrantes, Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters

Bill Armbruster, Journal Square Community Association’s Green Committee

Bill Schultz, Raritan Riverkeeper

Brenda Swinney, Garfield Ave Block Association

Bruno Figueiredo

Caroline Koch, WaterNow Alliance

Crystal Wessel, New Jersey Tree Foundation

David Smith, Trenton Water Works

Deandrah Cameron, New Jersey Future

Debra Italiano, Sustainable Jersey City

Elliott Ruga, New Jersey Highlands Coalition

Fallon Davis, STEAM URBAN

Future City Inc.

Frances Harrison, Paterson Green Team

Gail Rottenstrich, Borough Councilmember, Borough of Fair Lawn

Greg Remaud, NY/NJ Baykeeper

Heather Fenyk, Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership

Howard Levsion, South Orange Village Water Utility

James McGroarty, Clyde N Lattimer & Son Construction Company, Inc

Jamie Bruno, Urban Agriculture Cooperative

Jane Kenny, The Whitman Strategy Group

Jennifer Adkins, American Rivers

Jill Pustorino, Morris Park Neighborhood Association

Jocelyn Patrick, Riverview Neighborhood Association

John Algera, Urban Wilderness Renewal

Jose Amarante, Perth Amboy

Joseph Maraziti

Klaus Buschan, Friends of Weequahic Park

Kristin Epstein, Trenton Water Works

Laurie Howard, Passaic River Coalition

Louis Prezeau, La Casa Don Pedro

Lucia Ruggiero, American Littoral Society

Martha Arencibia, Paterson Green Team

Michele Langa, Hackensack Riverkeeper

Missy Frankil

Moriah Kinberg, Sewage-Free Streets and Rivers

Nancy Grier, Neighborhood Assistance Office

NewarkDIG (Doing Infrastructure Green)

Newark Green Team

Noelle Thurlow, Resilience Adventures

Pam mount, Terhune Orchards

Patricia Lindsay-Harvey, Willingboro Community Development Corporation

Richard Lawton, New Jersey Sustainable Business Council

Robert Maybury, Mount Holly Municipal Utilities Authority

Sabrina Ross, Unified Vailsburg Services Organization

Shaquille Fearon

Sheila Baker Gujral, Association of NJ Environmental Commissions (ANJEC)

Steve Kehayes, Paterson Habitat for Humanity

Taylor Kenerson, Connecting U

Theresa Bocchino

Tim Dillingham, American Littoral Society

Tobias Fox, Newark Science and Sustainability Inc

Troy Benavidez, American Standard/LIXIL

Vera Figueiredo, Solar One

William Kibler, Raritan Headwaters

Wynnie-Fred Victor Hinds, Weequahic Park Association

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