How safe is NJ drinking water? Many local systems need improvements
New Jersey has more than 600 different water systems operating across the state, some owned privately, others controlled by local governments.
In certain areas, these systems have been updated and modernized, while in other locations that is not the case.
State Sen. Linda Greenstein, D-Mercer, is pushing a plan to identify and implement improvements to the state's entire water infrastructure.
“All of us need clean healthy water and unfortunately right now there are many problems within that system and many that we don’t even think about on a daily basis," she said.
Should we have a water infrastructure center?
She is sponsoring a measure, S294, that calls for the establishment of a water infrastructure center at an institute of higher education to be named by the Department of Environmental Protection.
“It would be one central place where we could work on all of the problems in our water system, everything from the old pipes to the lead and all the many, many issues we have with water,” Greenstein said.
Bring it all together
Greenstein said we want to look at “all elements of that system and to bring together cross-disciplinary data to accelerate the development of innovative water infrastructure policies.”
Greenstein said all of New Jersey’s water infrastructure stakeholders must be included in the process, “including consumers, local government officials, water infrastructure departments and many others, so they would have one place to easily access all of the water-related information.”
She said that as we continue to learn more about how chemicals in the water system may pose a threat to human health, “this would give us one central place to study the information, to disseminate the information.”
Greenstein is also sponsoring a companion bill, S1299, that would direct the DEP to prepare a state water infrastructure investment plan.
Under the measure, the plan would include estimates for annual and long-term capital investment needed for all water infrastructure needs in the state.
Both bills have been approved by the Senate Environment and Energy committee and have been referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.