Ridgewood Water gets $2.8M grant to rid drinking water of PFAS, or 'forever chemicals'

NorthJersey.com: Ridgewood Water gets $2.8M grant to rid drinking water of PFAS, or 'forever chemicals'

By Marsha A. Stoltz

RIDGEWOOD — The village has been approved for a $2.8 million federal Environmental Protection Agency grant to pay costs associated with removing so-called forever chemicals from the water supply. 

The grant will offset a $3.5 million renovation of the village's Ravine Treatment Plant to remove per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, found in the local drinking water. The municipally owned utility, Ridgewood Water, serves 62,000 customers in the village, Midland Park, Glen Rock and Wyckoff. 

"We became aware of the funding on April 9 and had to have the application ready April 16," said Ridgewood Mayor Susan Knudsen. "Luckily we had a shovel-ready project."

Knudsen credited U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and Rep. Josh Gottheimer with shepherding the grant through Congress, as well as local officials who scrambled to assemble the necessary documents and letters of support. The grant comes from the federal Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

“For years now, it’s my top priority to get clean drinking water for our children and families," Gottheimer said Tuesday. "With bipartisan legislation I just helped pass and get signed into law, we’re clawing our federal tax dollars back to Jersey to help Ridgewood Water get lead and forever chemicals out of our drinking water."

Menendez said, “I’m proud to have secured this funding for Ridgewood so that we can ensure all residents have access to clean and safe drinking water."

Ridgewood filed lawsuits against a number of companies in 2019 and 2020 after 44 of its 52 municipal wells were found to be contaminated with elevated levels of PFAS, a group of man-made chemicals linked to cancer and other illnesses. Chemicals in the group include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS).

Dozens of New Jersey community water systems serving a combined 500,000 people were similarly challenged when PFAS levels above new state Department of Environmental Protection standards were reported at the end of 2021. Those systems face millions of dollars in expenses to buy filtering equipment. 

“Without this federal assistance, this expensive treatment cost would have been placed solely on the Ridgewood Water consumers who draw from the Brunswick Aquifer," Knudsen said Monday. "No family should need to singularly bear the financial brunt of this necessary infrastructure modernization as neither the utility nor the customers are responsible for placing this contaminant in the raw water source.”

The $2.8 million grant reflects the return of earmarks after a decade-long ban on congressionally directed funding. Dubbed the Community Funding Project, the initiative allows members of Congress to request direct funding for projects that benefit the communities they represent.

Marsha Stoltz is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: stoltz@northjersey.com

Twitter: @marsha_stoltz