Representatives from 34 public-sector, private-sector and nonprofit organizations together released a proposed Year One Clean Water Agenda for incoming Governor Phil Murphy, encouraging him to make investment in clean water a priority during the first year of his administration. Supporters include leaders in the utility, environmental, community development, agriculture, municipal, smart growth, industry, engineering, resilience, and planning sectors.
“Governor-elect Murphy has a historic opportunity to ensure all New Jerseyans have affordable access to clean, safe water and sewer service that protects human health and our environment,” said Larry Levine, senior attorney for Natural Resources Defense Council. “We are eager to work with his administration and other public and private-sector leaders to help bring the state’s aging water infrastructure into the 21st century.”
Among the recommendations in the Year One Clean Water Agenda:
- Launch a high-profile “Clean Water” campaign to promote awareness and action among the public and elected and appointed officials on issues including lead contamination in drinking water, aging infrastructure, and combined sewer overflows.
- By partnering with local officials, ensure effective combined sewer overflow plans are developed and implemented.
- Help water utilities finance infrastructure upgrades to modernize aging water systems and ensure cost-effective operations and maintenance.
- Update the state’s stormwater regulations to drive and reward nature-based green infrastructure techniques in development and redevelopment projects.
- Get the lead out of drinking water in homes and schools. Publish a statewide assessment of lead in school drinking water that identifies the extent of the problem in each school district and associated needs for assistance.
- Launch a public process to recommend statewide policies and programs to ensure water and sewer services are affordable to all ratepayers.
- Enact legislation that permits the establishment of local and regional stormwater utilities and subsequent revenue generation to support infrastructure and management.
“Clean water is essential to all of New Jersey’s communities; for people, for the wildlife and biota in the rivers and streams and for business and agriculture,” said Dennis Palmer, representing the Association of Environmental Authorities of New Jersey. “We look forward to working with the new administration.”
“Clean water is a fundamental human right and this comprehensive agenda outlines how all New Jerseyans can realize this right,” said Drew Curtis, community development and environmental justice director at the Ironbound Community Corporation. “We welcome the chance to work with Governor-elect Murphy and his team on advancing it.”
“This Year One Clean Water Agenda spotlights critical things that the new governor can enact early in his first term to modernize New Jersey’s aging water systems,” said Chris Sturm, New Jersey Future’s managing director for policy and water. “Well-functioning water systems provide the foundation for healthy, just communities and the economic growth New Jersey needs.”
The agenda was crafted over a two-month period by representatives of five organizations: the Association of Environmental Authorities of New Jersey, Ironbound Community Corporation, Natural Resources Defense Council, NY/NJ Baykeeper and New Jersey Future.
The full Year One Clean Water Agenda, including the list of signatories, is available here.