Governor Christie Signs Legislation Providing $1.94 Billion for Critical Drinking Water and Infrastructure Resiliency Projects Across New Jersey
State of New Jersey, Office of the Governor
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Trenton, NJ – Furthering his commitment to the environment and modernizing critical New Jersey infrastructure, Governor Chris Christie signed legislation authorizing up to $1.94 billion in state financing for projects to improve drinking water and wastewater infrastructure across the state. The funding includes $776 million to upgrade and protect facilities from storms and flooding such as occurred during Superstorm Sandy.
“There can be no compromise when it comes to the integrity of the State’s water infrastructure systems and the impact they have on our communities and our environment,” said Governor Christie. “Through this legislation, more than 280 projects will be authorized for low-interest loans and no-interest financing that will make infrastructure throughout New Jersey more storm-resilient, enhance and protect the state’s water quality, and create jobs and advance economic development.”
The New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust (NJEIT) and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have been working in partnership for decades to provide financing to projects that will protect and enhance water quality. This mission took on added significance following Sandy, with the development of the Statewide Assistance Infrastructure Loan, or SAIL, program, which expedites the financing process to get work done more quickly in anticipation of Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster reimbursement.
Operators of infrastructure in New Jersey have undertaken a wide range of storm-resiliency projects, including replacement and hardening of pump stations, restoring and protecting key treatment and administrative facilities, construction of flood-protection walls and elevation of existing walls, ensuring backup power generators are protected, relocating infrastructure to safer ground, and construction of pumping systems to remove flood waters.
“Projects such as these are critical to ensuring these vital public services remain in operation in times of natural disasters, and that our environment is protected,” Commissioner Martin said. “Sandy dealt a devastating blow to our drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, much of which is located along rivers and coastal areas that are vulnerable to severe flooding.”
Storm-hardening projects authorized for funding include:
Nearly $185 million for the Middlesex County Utilities Authority that will allow for restoration of Sayreville and Edison pump stations, and takes steps to protect them from future flooding. The financing will also fund upgrades to its wastewater treatment plant;
Approximately $78 million for the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission for repairs and upgrades to infrastructure;
More than $72 million for ongoing restoration and resiliency projects for the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority in Union Beach;
More than $33 million for work to construct a sea wall and improve the resiliency of the Atlantic County Utilities Authority treatment plant in Atlantic City;
· Nearly $16 million for construction of wet weather pumping stations and up to $30 million in additional funds for storm water and green infrastructure to address flooding in Hoboken.
Climate change could put NJ's wastewater infrastructure in the toilet, new report says.
New Jersey's outdated sewer infrastructure will become increasingly strained due to climate change and sea level rise, a new report finds. (S.P. Sullivan | NJ Advance Media)
By S.P. Sullivan
October 31, 2014 at 12:16 PM, updated October 31, 2014 at 7:07 PM
Problems caused by aging wastewater systems in New Jersey and New York will only get worse due to climate change and sea level rise, according to a report released today by the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.
The report, “Rising Waters, Rising Threat,” looks at the damage to sewer systems and water treatment facilities wrought two years ago by Hurricane Sandy and the threat presented by future storms.
Sandy sent some 11 billion gallons of raw sewage into the region’s streets and waterways, according to the report, overcoming New Jersey’s sewer systems, some of which date back hundreds of years.“That was really a harbinger of extreme weather to come,” said Shiva Polefka, a policy analyst for the group. He said New Jersey and states around the country with outmoded water infrastructure need to adjust to deal with more frequent storms.
New Jersey is still grappling with an $11 billion problem as it looks to bring its water infrastructure into compliance with the Clean Water Act, including addressing the issue of combined sewer systems, which commingle storm runoff with wastewater, sending raw or partially treated sewage into urban waterways during storms.“
The heavy downpours are really increasing dramatically, and these combined sewer systems were designed and built based on historical rainfall patterns,” Polefka said. “What we’re seeing is these extreme storms that lead to these overflows are dramatically increasing nation-wide.”
New Jersey has updated its permitting process to require upgrade plans for its combined sewer operators, but changes are still years in the offing.
Polefka said addressing combined sewer issue is a financial imperative for coastal states like New Jersey, which pull in billions of dollars in revenues from visitors to their shores.“Clean, healthy waterways are actually a major economic driver,” he said. “When you have sewage spills, it closes those areas. Not only does it make people sick, but businesses that thrive along the shore in New Jersey are economically impacted.”"What we're seeing is these extreme storms that lead to these overflows are dramatically increasing nation-wide."
In addition to sewers, wastewater facilities themselves are sorely in need of improvements, the group says. Their report recommends financing upgrades through state infrastructure banks, and says New Jersey has been “exemplar” in using federal Sandy relief funds to create the state Energy Resilience Bank, which will fund new energy infrastructure at wastewater treatment plants.But it also recommends states “integrate climate risk into all new wastewater infrastructure.” Environmental groups have criticized Gov. Chris Christie’s administration for not taking climate change into account as the state rebuilds. The New Jersey Sierra Club this week gave the administration low marks on its post-Sandy “report card,” in part for not embracing climate science.Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said Friday that "water and wastewater facilities statewide are mobilizing engineering, planning and financing to deal better with future storms, such as the worst one to ever hit New Jersey."
Ragonese said New Jersey has "some $1.2 billion earmarked for 200 water and wastewater infrastructure projects across the state.""This was a very disappointing report," he said. "We are working very hard to improve our state and deal with the results of the massive storm that struck us."In addition to hard infrastructure improvements, the group points to green infrastructure projects in Philadelphia, which has been working to create more “porous, vegetated landscapes” that absorb storm water that would normally inundate sewers as runoff.“It’s really helping clean up and revitalize the wetland ecosystems there,” Polefka said. “The icing on the cake is that it’s billions of dollars cheaper than having to build tunnels under the city.”
S.P. Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him onTwitter. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
EPA Provides New Jersey $74 Million for Water Infrastructure Projects
Release Date: 10/17/2014
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, (212) 637-3664, firstname.lastname@example.org (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $74 million to New Jersey to help finance improvements to water projects that are essential to protecting public health and the environment. The funds will be primarily used to upgrade sewage plants and drinking water systems throughout the state. This funding, which is awarded annually, is in addition to the $229 million NJ recently received for Hurricane Sandy resiliency projects.“Since 1989, the EPA has provided more than $2 billion for New Jersey water projects,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck.
Experts Agree on Action Agenda To Address State’s Water Infrastructure Problems
June 18th, 2014 by Chris Sturm
Faced with a looming deadline, attendees at Jersey City meeting agreed on an “Agenda for Change” to catalyze the transformation of New Jersey’s aging urban water systems.On May 20 and 21, at a convening organized by New Jersey Future, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread, a group of 22 senior leaders from a broad range of organizations, including water utilities, environmental organizations, economic and community development organizations, the private sector and local governments, issued an agenda for change designed to transform New Jersey’s obsolete urban water systems.“Everyone in the room agreed that this is one of the defining challenges New Jersey faces,” said New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach. “For many reasons, upgrading our cities’ water infrastructure has been put on the back burner again and again, but we are now at the point where we cannot postpone it further without hindering the state’s economic prosperity and making us less competitive both in the region and in the world.”