BERGEN COUNTY, NJ — A new $3.4 million federal investment will help address lead and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or “forever chemicals,” in this Bergen borough’s drinking water, just months after similar grants were announced in nearby towns.
The investment, announced last Friday by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), will help improve water infrastructure serving more than 5,000 residents in Park Ridge and Woodcliff Lake; this is part of the lawmaker’s broader plan, he said, to help Fifth District communities have clean water access.
“For years now, I’ve been sounding the alarm on the threat of contaminated drinking water to the health and safety of our families…,” Gottheimer said. “…I believe that every child — every family — deserves to drink water that’s free of lead and dangerous chemicals…”.
Park Ridge will get three “problematic” wells replaced through this investment, which will, in effect, “make life more affordable,” because water rates will be stabilized and a “burden” will be taken off of the borough’s budget, Gottheimer said.
“This is a historic day for Park Ridge and Woodcliff Lake, and the culmination of two years of hard work by (the congressman and local officials),” Mayor Keith Misciagna said at Friday’s conference.
Misciagna said he reached out to Gottheimer when the state and federal government issued new regulations to get PFAS out of the drinking water, and that he had asked the Fifth District representative to help the town with this costly problem.
In implementing the new water system standards, Park Ridge took three wells offline in 2021 due to “increased levels” of PFAS, and was able to put two back online with $2.2 million in bonds funded by local taxpayers, officials said.
With this new federal investment, Park Ridge Water — the utility serving Park Ridge and Woodcliff Lake — will install a filtration system to replace a temporary treatment center provided through the bond, and will get all three wells replaced, officials said.
Gottheimer said this investment also builds upon his “Clean Water Action Plan,” which he has referenced in his recent announcements of federal dollars to Mahwah, Fair Lawn and others, to help those towns improve water treatment capabilities as well.
To wit, in January, the lawmaker announced a $800,000 federal investment to Mahwah for a new filtration system that would enable the town to turn a large well back on, and $3.4 million to Fair Lawn to help the borough bring its wells back online, Patch reported.
Gottheimer has now turned to Park Ridge Water, which operates 100-year-old wells that, he said, need updating to new water safety standards (specifically for PFAS — which are linked to numerous health risks).
“As a small, independent water company… to clean the water would have been very difficult for us to sustain (financially),” Mayor Misciagna said.
“You’ve been saying that you’re clawing back federal dollars for New Jersey’s Fifth District,” he said to Gottheimer. “Here’s proof.”
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