RELEASE: Gottheimer Announces New $3.4M Federal Investment for Park Ridge for Water Treatment to Address Forever Chemicals

Fighting for Clean Drinking Water for Children and Families. Builds on Gottheimer’s Clean Water Action Plan.

May 12, 2023
Press

Above: Gottheimer in Park Ridge to announce new federal investment for water treatment facilities.

PARK RIDGE, NJ — Today, May 12, 2023, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) joined with local leaders and officials from Park Ridge to announce a new $3.4 million federal investment clawed back from Washington to Park Ridge for new and improved water treatment. This new federal investment will help improve Park Ridge’s filtration systems and address PFAS and forever chemicals. The borough has designed a bigger, permanent filtration system, and this federal investment will help get wells replaced. This will help make life more affordable for families because water rates will be stabilized, and this investment will take a burden off the borough’s budget — helping lower taxes. 

This new federal investment will help ensure that families and small businesses in Park Ridge and Woodcliff Lake have access to clean water for decades to come. Park Ridge Water serves more than 5,000 customers in Park Ridge and Woodcliff Lake. 

The investment builds on Gottheimer’s broader Clean Water Action Plan, which includes action taken to help our towns, schools, and water treatment facilities remove dangerous lead and forever chemicals from our children’s drinking water, stop waste dumping in the area, and provide greater transparency to our families about drinking water in our schools. 

It also builds on the progress Gottheimer has led over recent years for greater transparency and investment to address dangerous lead and forever chemicals in water in North Jersey schools.

According to public reporting New Jersey has 350,000 lead service lines, which are lead pipes that connect a water main from the curb to premises like a home or school. The EPA estimates that at least 20% of human lead exposure is from drinking water. PFAS, known as forever chemicals, in drinking water has been an issue for towns across the Fifth District and has been linked to numerous adverse health effects, including cancers and impaired child development.

Gottheimer is also working with towns across the Fifth District to claw back even more of our own tax dollars to help improve their water treatment facilities, protect our families, and make life more affordable. The more of our federal tax dollars that we get back to Northern New Jersey, the less pressure on our town budgets and taxpayers. 

“As a member of the Congressional PFAS Task Force, I believe that every child — every family — deserves to drink water that’s free of lead and dangerous chemicals, and every parent deserves to know that their town’s water is safe to drink, whether that’s in their homes or in their schools. For years now, I’ve been sounding the alarm on the threat of contaminated drinking water to the health and safety of our families — whether that’s elevated lead levels or forever chemicals like per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5).“I helped craft and pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill which invested $168 million for critical New Jersey water infrastructure needs to get forever chemicals and lead out of our families’ water, and improve overall the quality of life for New Jersey families. This new $3.4 million federal investment clawed back from Washington will help improve Park Ridge’s filtration systems and address lead, PFAS, and forever chemicals. This will help make life more affordable for families because water rates will be stabilized, and this investment will take a burden off the borough’s budget — helping lower taxes.”

“Today was truly an historic day for the residents of Park Ridge and Woodcliff Lake and the culmination of 2 years of hard work by Congressman Josh Gottheimer, his staff, and the park ridge team. This $3.4 million award of federal funds will ensure that future generations of Park Ridge and Woodcliff lake residents will have clean drinking water. Thank you, Congressman Gottheimer, for continuing to claw back federal funds for New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional District,” said Park Ridge Mayor Keith Misciagna. 

Gottheimer was joined today in Park Ridge by Park Ridge Mayor Keith Misciagna and Park Ridge Councilmen Bruce Goldsmith and Gregory Hoffman.

Gottheimer’s Clean Water Action Plan includes the following:

  • Clawing Back Federal Dollars to North Jersey for Clean Water Projects: 
    • In addition to today’s announcement in Park Ridge, Gottheimer also successfully clawed back a $2.8 million federal investment for Ridgewood Water to improve their water treatment facility and address elevated levels of lead and forever chemicals in the water supply. Ridgewood Water serves more than 62,000 residents across Ridgewood, Wyckoff, Midland Park, and Glen Rock. 
    • Gottheimer clawed back a $3.4 million federal investment clawed back from Washington to Fair Lawn for new and improved water treatment. 
    • Gottheimer clawed back $800,000 dollars in federal investment from Washington and away from the Moocher States, for a new and improved filtration system in Mahwah to help meet updated State clean drinking water standards. 
    • Gottheimer secured a $100,000 federal investment clawed back from Washington to Sussex County to help fix critical water infrastructure for our children and families — including repairing older leaking pipes that can cause water contamination. This new investment will help Sussex Borough acquire an acoustic leak detection system to detect leaks and repair them before they become pipe breaks. It will also help make necessary repairs to the 100-year-old water main. This federal investment will help ensure that families and small businesses in Sussex Borough and Wantage have access to clean water. 
    • Gottheimer helped secure $1 billion in total for Jersey’s critical water infrastructure through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which he helped craft and pass. These investments will help lower the local tax burden on our residents. 
  • Ensuring Transparency in Schools: Working with parents, state legislators, and the Governor, from 2017 to 2019, Gottheimer called to create a centralized, easy-to-access school lead water reporting database for the State of New Jersey. In 2019, the database website was unveiled, allowing for parents and communities to access up-to-date information on dangerous lead water in their children’s schools. Furthermore, a key piece of Gottheimer’s bipartisan Lead-Free Schools Act was enacted into law via the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, creating a targeted pilot program using existing resources to improve drinking water infrastructure in schools nationwide with lead in their water.
  • Replacing Lead Service Lines: A North Jersey private water provider, Veolia Water, announced that 7,800 lead lines had been removed and that lead levels across the system were at historic lows. Veolia committed to having no lead in their system in 10 years. Gottheimer has now called on every single provider, private and public, to remove lead from all service lines going to houses. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which he helped craft and pass, provides investment to water utilities and municipal water systems to begin removing lead service lines.

Video of today’s announcement can be found here.

Below: Gottheimer in Park Ridge to announce new federal investment for water treatment facilities.

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

Before I begin, and since we are here to talk about the environment, I wanted to quickly address some new news on the Congestion Tax.

This morning, New York and the MTA announced that they’d be making some tweaks to their anti-environment, cash-grabbing $23 dollar-a-day Congestion Tax plan. The headline for New York’s new proposal out this morning is trying to put lipstick on a pig.

Last week, MTA Chairman Janno Lieber and Governor Hochul’s plan was exposed for what they admitted it was: a cash-grab to bail out the terribly mismanaged MTA. A plan that they admitted in their own report would increase soot, particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide in Bergen County, as well as toxins like formaldehyde which is a carcinogen. And they admitted that their plan will increase truck traffic in Bergen County, with nearly a thousand trucks being diverted to our communities. 

Additionally, no discounts or exemptions are offered for middle class families driving into Manhattan for work, to take their kids to school, or for doctors appointments. 

The MTA is admitting that there will be a need for environmental mitigation in Jersey because of the Congestion Tax. And what’s even richer is that these proposed mitigation efforts — which, by the way, won’t stop middle-class Jersey families from being whacked with a new tax — aren’t even set in stone! 

They said they might throw a bone to Jersey after the Congestion Tax is implemented, even though we know from the MTA’s initial reporting that their plan WILL increase air pollution in Jersey.

The facts in their own reports have come to light. So, now, they’re trying to take the same money Jersey drivers will be forced to pay them and use it to fix the problem they caused with their Congestion Tax! It’s like a burglar stealing your safe and on their way out, as you’re tied up, throwing you a quarter to keep. 

Now, let’s get to what we’re here for today. A year or so ago, I stood right here with Park Ridge Mayor Keith Misciagna and officials from Park Ridge – from the Borough Council and the water authority. They had a real challenge on their hands. Park Ridge Water serves more than 5,000 customers in Park Ridge and Woodcliff Lake. They’ve been operating their own water authority for almost 100 years, and the wells here in town are also older, and, as a result, need to be updated to meet the latest water safety standards. The biggest issue – PFAS – are forever chemicals from cancer-causing products like teflon and stain repellents. 

The state and federal government issued new regulations to get these chemicals out of our drinking water to protect our children and families. And the mayor and council went into action. They called me right away and said we want to fix the problem immediately, but it’s very expensive. Tens of millions of dollars. Can you help? 

I commend the Mayor and Council for taking three wells offline due to increased levels of PFAS following the State implementing new water system standards. 

Thankfully, these wells were put back online after the town invested $2 million to implement a temporary treatment center. This fell directly on ratepayers and it’s not a long-term solution.

The Mayor and Council have never stopped fighting to make sure those families have clean water – free of lead and any chemicals.  This has also been a top priority of mine, since before I was in Congress: Clean drinking water for our families. 

Today, we have great news for the families of Park Ridge: together, we’ve clawed back $3.4 million dollars in federal investment from Washington to Park Ridge for new and improved water treatment for the community to help get PFAS, lead, and other chemicals out of the drinking water here in town – and meet all state and federal standards. 

This new federal investment, which I fought for and clawed back from Washington to Jersey, builds on my broader Clean Water Action Plan. 

That includes steps we’ve taken to help our towns, schools, and water treatment facilities remove dangerous lead and forever chemicals from our children’s drinking water and provide greater transparency to our families about drinking water in our schools.  

As a member of the Congressional PFAS Task Force, I believe that every child — every family — deserves to drink water that’s free of lead and dangerous chemicals, and every parent deserves to know that their town’s water is safe to drink, whether that’s in their homes or in their schools. 

Just last month, I joined a letter calling on the EPA to move quicker in its efforts to combat the PFAS crisis.

Let’s be clear, our water challenges didn’t happen overnight and fixing them won’t either. But, our families deserve action now. Here’s why the progress we’ve already made to date is so important. 

The science is clear and concerning: Lead exposure can stunt a child’s development, can cause learning disabilities and appetite loss, and can even lead to permanent damage to their vital organs and nervous systems. 

Children who are exposed to lead water often experience hearing loss, seizures, and irreversible harm to brain development. 

According to the American Water Works Association, New Jersey has 350,000 lead service lines, which are lead pipes that connect a water main to premises like a home or school — from the curb to the home. Any pipe leading to a home or school built before 1988 could have lead pipes.

Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and child care centers across our country lack safe drinking water. The EPA estimates that at least 20 percent of human lead exposure is from drinking water. I talk to parents about this issue all of the time – especially when residents get one of those blue slips with their water bills, or read a story in the paper. We cannot afford to take these risks with our kids; the stakes are simply too high.

I helped craft and pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill which invested $168 million for critical New Jersey water infrastructure needs to get forever chemicals and lead out of our families’ water, and improve overall the quality of life for New Jersey families. Additionally, I am pleased that the State has put into place new public water systems standards for monitoring dangerous chemicals in our water. 

The first, core part of my Clean Water Action Plan, focuses on resources and investment.

Last June, while announcing a $2.8 million-dollar federal investment clawed back for Ridgewood water to serve families in Ridgewood, Wyckoff, Midland Park, and Glen Rock, I mentioned that I was working with Park Ridge to secure new water treatment investments there too.  

We clawed back a $2.8 million federal investment for Ridgewood Water to improve their water treatment facility and address elevated levels of lead and forever chemicals in the water supply. Ridgewood Water serves more than 62,000 residents across Ridgewood, Wyckoff, Midland Park, and Glen Rock. 

We clawed back a $3.4 million federal investment clawed back from Washington to Fair Lawn for new and improved water treatment.

Working together, we also clawed back $800,000 dollars in federal investment from Washington and away from the Moocher States, for a new and improved filtration system in Mahwah to help meet updated State clean drinking water standards.

We also landed a $100,000 federal investment clawed back from Washington to Sussex County to help fix critical water infrastructure for our children and families — including repairing older leaking pipes that can cause water contamination.

I’m incredibly excited and proud to announce that today builds on that success, with the $3.4 million federal investment for Park Ridge to improve their water treatment capabilities and address three problematic wells.

This new federal investment will help improve Park Ridge’s filtration systems and address lead, PFAS, and forever chemicals. The borough has designed a bigger, permanent filtration system and this federal investment will help get those three wells replaced. 

This will help make life more affordable for families because water rates will be stabilized, and this investment will take a burden off the borough’s budget — helping lower taxes. 

The long-term hope is to potentially have a new, full-fledged water treatment center to handle filtration systems in addition to many of these issues on a broader scale. This new federal investment is the first step in that process.

We’re also currently working with other communities across the Fifth District to help them too.

We’re doing this in two ways: First, as part of my responsibilities in Congress, I’ve officially submitted water project requests for towns across the Fifth District.

The second part of my Clean Water Action Plan is all about transparency, especially about water in our schools. 

Working with parents, state legislators, and the Governor, going back from 2017 to 2019, I called to create a centralized, easy-to-access school lead water reporting database for the State of New Jersey. It got done. Now, parents and communities can finally have the right up-to-date information on dangerous lead water in their children’s schools.

The final part of our Clean Water Action Plan is about making sure that every last house in Northern New Jersey can feel good about the water going from the street to their home. 

For example, Veolia Water recently announced they’ve actually surpassed state and federal guidelines for replacing lead services lines. But, we all know that there is more work to be done to prepare for the future, and I’m continuing to work closely with all of our water providers. 

We need that same action from every single provider, private and public, to remove lead from all service lines going to houses. 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill provides investment to water utilities and municipal water systems to do just that.

As I said, my Clean Water Action Plan builds on years of work to remove dangerous lead and forever chemicals from children and families’ drinking water.

With today’s announcement, we’re clawing back more investment — federal dollars that we’ve secured to come back to help us right here in Park Ridge. 

The bottom line: It’s vital that we continue clawing more of our tax dollars back to Jersey, instead of it all going to the Moocher States, so we can help our local communities, our local water utilities, and our school systems identify and replace all dangerous pipes, fully treat and filter out forever chemicals from our water, and protect our families and children.

This is a bipartisan issue that can bring together everyone, so that we can solve a clear problem — and so that here in the greatest country in the world, our best days will always be ahead of us, and our families and children will be safe and healthy.

Thank you. God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

 ###

Recent Posts


Apr 18, 2024
Press

RELEASE: Gottheimer Remembers Jersey Firefighter and Labor Leader Bobby Allen on House Floor

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, April 18, 2024, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) honored and memorialized the life of Robert “Bobby” Allen, a Paterson firefighter and New Jersey labor leader, in a floor speech.  Video of Congressman Gottheimer’s floor speech can be found here. Bobby began his career with the Paterson Fire Department in 1992, serving as a […]



Apr 16, 2024
Press

RELEASE: House Passes Gottheimer-led Bipartisan Resolution Condemning Antisemitic “From the River to the Sea” Chants

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Tuesday, April 16, 2024, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Congressman Anthony D’Esposito (NY-4), and Congressman Jared Moskowitz (FL-23) led a bipartisan resolution that successfully passed the House. The resolution, H.R. 883, condemns the chant “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free” as antisemitic. The resolution passed the House by a […]



Apr 16, 2024
Press

RELEASE: House Passes Gottheimer-led Bipartisan Legislation Prohibiting China from Purchasing Iranian Petroleum Products

Above: Gottheimer on the House floor. WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Monday, April 15, 2024, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), urged his colleagues to vote for the Iran-China Energy Sanctions Act — bipartisan legislation he is leading with his Problem Solvers Caucus colleague, Rep. Mike Lawler (NY-17). This legislation, which unanimously passed the House Financial Services Committee, expands sanctions […]