The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has awarded nearly $84.5 million to New Jersey to finance water infrastructure projects that are essential to protecting New Jersey families and the environment. The funds will mainly be used to upgrade wastewater and drinking water systems through New Jersey’s Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRF), funds that provide low-interest loans for investments in water infrastructure. These awards, plus a 20% state match and repayments from prior SRF loans, combined with interest earnings and bond issuances, will enable the financing of up to $450 million of clean water and drinking water infrastructure projects in New Jersey.
According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Projection’s Intended Use Plan, more than $18 million would be eligible to go to the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC) for rehabilitation of concrete and protective coatings on twelve secondary treatment clarifiers at its sewage treatment facility. The PVSC serves multiple towns in the Fifth and Ninth Districts, including Fairlawn, Franklin Lakes, Glen Rock, Hackensack, South Hackensack, Little Falls, and Lodi.
“I don’t want any parent, here in Bergen County, the 5th District, our state, or across the country, to have to worry if the water their child drinks contains lead,” said Congressman Gottheimer. “We simply can’t afford to be short-sighted when it comes to securing the health of our children. These are our tax dollars being clawed back into our District to keep our families healthy and safe. There’s nothing partisan about that.”
“Eighty-four million dollars is no small potatoes. While we don’t see our underground pipes crumbling like we can see a road or a bridge in disrepair, aging water systems is a dangerous and costly problem that affects us all. This award can help make sure that citizens in our great state has access to clean and safe water,” said Rep. Pascrell, a former member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources. “When the federal government rightfully mandates clean water, it is only right that it help our localities pay. And we have plenty of worthy projects in our district that could use support. For example, currently the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission needs $18.8 million to complete rehabilitation of several of its secondary treatment clarifiers at its sewage treatment facility. I will be working with Governor Murphy and his administration to make sure as many of our communities enjoy part of this EPA award as is possible.”
Last year, Congressman Gottheimer introduced The Lead-Free Schools Act – a bipartisan bill that requires testing for lead in our schools, empowers parents by improving transparency and creates a pilot program to help schools replace out-of-date infrastructure like lead-tainted water fountains. The bill would also claw back federal tax dollars the district is already sending to Washington to help secure the health and safety of our children. He has also worked with the Governor’s office to strengthen efforts to keep our water lead-free in a comprehensive plan to get to the bottom of this problem and protect our children’s health and safety.
Rep. Pascrell has supported robust funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds since coming to Congress. He has introduced legislation to expand the funding pot with the creation of a grant program dedicated to fixing combined sewer overflow systems which have polluted our waterways and are a burden for too many communities along our rivers.
Before taking office, the Fifth District had one of the worst returns on the tax dollars we sent to Washington – just $0.33 for every dollar, compared to “Moocher States” like Mississippi and Alabama that get back as much as $4.38 per dollar. In March, Gottheimer joined local elected officials to announce that the Fifth District had clawed back $290 per household from Washington and Moocher States – 16% higher than in previous years – to support local schools, boost storm preparedness and response, fight crime and terror, and more.