RELEASE: Gottheimer Announces New Federal Investment for Sussex County Water Infrastructure, Clawed Back $100K to NJ for Repairs to Sussex Borough, Wantage Water Main, New Leak Detection System

Jul 18, 2022
Press

Clawed Back $100K to NJ for Repairs to Sussex Borough, Wantage Water Main, New Leak Detection System

Builds on Clean Water Action Plan

Leaks & Breaks Lead to Contamination, Floods, Traffic, Water Shortages

Above: Gottheimer in Sussex Borough to announce new federal investment for water infrastructure.

SUSSEX BOROUGH, NJ — Today, July 18, 2022, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) joined with local leaders to announce a new $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 for decades to come.

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.

Leaking pipes and water main breaks present a potential pathway for contaminants and bacteria to enter the drinking water system, putting our families and children at risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, water main breaks can result in serious microbial or chemical contamination because a drop in pressure can lead to non-potable water entering the system. Water main breaks can flood entire neighborhoods, wreak havoc on traffic, cause water shortages, and waste millions of gallons of treated water. 

Gottheimer is also working with other towns across the Fifth District, including Park Ridge, Mahwah, and Fair Lawn, to replicate this success and claw back even more of our own tax dollars to help improve their water treatment facilities. The more of our federal tax dollars that we get back to Northern New Jersey, the less pressure on our towns’ budgets and taxpayers. 

“For years now, it’s my top priority to get clean drinking water for our children and families and I’ve been fighting in Congress to claw more tax dollars back to Jersey. A critical $100,000 bipartisan federal investment has now been signed into law to help fix older pipes, detect leaks, reduce water contamination, and help prevent pipes impacting Sussex County residents in Wantage and Sussex Borough,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “With bipartisan legislation I helped pass and get signed into law, and the $1 billion for water infrastructure I helped secure for Jersey through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, we’re helping get bacteria, contaminants, lead, and forever chemicals out of our drinking water. I’m also working with other towns across the Fifth District, including Park Ridge, Mahwah, and Fair Lawn, to replicate this success and claw back even more of our own tax dollars to help improve their water treatment facilities. The more of our federal tax dollars that we get back to Northern New Jersey, the less our towns have to charge in local taxes — and I’m all about lowering taxes.”

“The Congressman has been a great ally of Sussex Borough over the years. He has reached out to us to gain understanding of our needs and find resources available,” said Sussex Borough Mayor Ed Meyer. “Being selected by the Congressman as a project for direct funding has improved our ability to address our sewer and water needs without drastically increasing our rates or negatively impacting the quality of life of our residents. Every dollar Sussex receives in grants is one dollar less the residents of Sussex Borough must fund.”

Gottheimer was joined today on Sussex Borough’s Main Street by Sussex Borough Mayor Ed Meyer, Sussex Borough Council President Robert Holowach, and Sussex Township Administrator Jim DeBlock.

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 Sussex Borough, 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 is working to secure new federal investment for water treatment projects in Mahwah, Fair Lawn, and Park Ridge. Gottheimer also helped secure $1 billion 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: Last year, a North Jersey private water provider, Suez Water, announced that 7,800 lead lines had been removed and that lead levels across the system were at historic lows. Suez 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 shape 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 Sussex Borough to announce new federal investment for water infrastructure with local leaders.

cid39351*YjpjbhlNPSkeKwsMXXAg

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

I’m here today in Sussex Borough with local leaders to announce a new federal investment we’ve clawed back from Washington to Sussex County to help fix critical water infrastructure here for our children and families — including repairing older leaking pipes that can cause water contamination. This investment builds on my broader Clean Water Action Plan, which includes action we’ve 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. 

Let’s be clear: our water challenges didn’t happen overnight and fixing them won’t either. The Water Utility system here in Sussex Borough is more than 100 years old and, like all infrastructure that is old, the pipes regularly leak. Right now, there is no way to detect and repair leaks before they become breaks, putting at risk both Sussex Borough and Wantage’s water supply. So, today’s announcement is critical to helping fix those older pipes, detect leaks, reduce water contamination, and help prevent pipes from bursting.  

To give you a little more background — Sussex’s 100-year-old water utility system distributes water to homes and businesses in both Sussex and Wantage. It routinely suffers leaks, some detected and some unnoticed, and these leaks can lead to serious pipe breaks, putting at risk access to clean water. 

From 2012 to 2018, water main breaks, which are often caused by old age and corrosion, increased nationally by 27 percent, according to the American Water Works Association. We know that leaky pipes and water main breaks present a potential pathway for contaminants and bacteria to enter the drinking water system, putting our families and children at risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, water main breaks can result in serious microbial or chemical contamination because a drop in pressure can lead to non-potable water entering the system. 

Breaks and leaks also waste millions of gallons of treated water. Dollars are literally being flushed down the drain. With the estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States, that’s two trillion gallons of treated drinking water escaping. This means 14 to 18 percent of water treated each day is lost, enough to serve 15 million homes.

This is exactly the kind of issue that Sussex Borough is facing. They have a decades-old water main system in need of desperate repairs and no reliable way to detect leaks that lead to breaks. 

Plus, breaking water mains can flood entire neighborhoods, wreak havoc on traffic, and, in dire cases, cause water shortages. If the source of a break can’t be isolated, it could force the water treatment plant offline to get the situation under control. The new resources we are announcing today will help fix that.

To boot, on the local level, our small towns like Sussex Borough run on very tight budgets, making it next to impossible for them to raise the revenue necessary for sewer and water utility upgrade projects mandated by the EPA and NJDEP. Sussex Borough has had to look for other means to finance their water projects. 

Before I took office, it seemed like Sussex County and Northern New Jersey rarely received federal grants to repair and update their water systems. I’ve made it a priority to change that.

After working closely with Sussex Mayor Meyer and local councils, I formally requested that Sussex’s Water Utility Improvement Project receive a direct federal investment. We’re here today to announce that we’ve successfully clawed back $100,000 from Washington for the Borough’s critical water main project — a huge win for families and children, the local water utility, and for clean drinking water.

This new investment will help Sussex 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 and Wantage have access to clean water for decades to come.

Small towns like Sussex rely on federal investments to supplement their local budgets, which simply aren’t great enough to make necessary investments in clean water projects. But I’ve been laser focused on doing everything we can to claw our federal tax dollars back from Washington to Sussex County and my entire District. The good news is that working closely with our mayors, councils, first responders, and other community organizations, we’re up 112 percent since I came to office in the federal tax dollars that we’ve clawed back. That puts less pressure on our towns and helps lower our property taxes for our families.  

Also, when the pandemic was at its worst, I worked side by side with mayors and local officials across Sussex County to ensure that federal dollars were clawed back through the CARES Act and American Rescue Plan. Every single town and borough in the Fifth District, including Sussex Borough, received COVID-19 funding — for direct costs to the towns and counties and to families, small businesses, nonprofits, first responders, and hospitals. 

I’m proud that with a great deal of cooperation — from across the aisle and from every corner of this great State — we were all able to ensure our communities, families, businesses, first responders and frontline health care workers had the continued support they needed. 

Through the CARES Act, we clawed back $1.8 million to Sussex County to help reimburse the costs the county took on directly during the pandemic, for testing, PPE, and additional resources for our brave first responders and frontline public service workforce.

My office did an analysis of available data, and we learned that New Jersey’s Fifth District alone had received $3 billion in total — including an average $2,900 for every Sussex County resident. 

That included the small business PPP loans to each individual county, the direct Economic Impact Payments to residents in each individual county, the federal unemployment support, for those out of work, and the hospitals, non-profits, education, and other direct grants to each individual county.

Then, through the American Rescue Plan, we clawed back $27.25 million directly to the Sussex County government, and all the Sussex town governments that make up the Fifth District, in total, received $9.26 million. Sussex Borough received nearly $200,000 in federal assistance – that could be used for water and sewer infrastructure, broadband connectivity, and other infrastructure projects and COVID-related expenditures. 

Last point: today’s water announcement builds on my broader Clean Water Action Plan that’s been a huge priority of mine before I even got to Congress. Parents are always talking to me about the drinking water in their kid’s school or in their homes. 

For years now, after hearing from so many parents, I’ve been sounding the alarm on the threat of contaminated drinking water to the health and safety of our families, in our schools and in our homes — whether that’s elevated lead levels, forever chemicals like per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, or contaminants and bacteria entering water systems from pipe breaks.

I believe that every child — every family — deserves to have access to clean water, 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.

We know that 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. We also know that forever chemicals like PFAS in our water have been linked to numerous other adverse health effects, including cancers and impaired child development. The State recently put into place new public water systems standards for monitoring dangerous chemicals in our water.

Here’s the good news on that front: Last year, I helped craft and pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill which invests $1 billion for New Jersey water infrastructure and provides investment to water utilities and municipal water systems. The State of New Jersey will finally have the resources to make the investments we need to help replace lead pipes across the state and protect our children’s drinking water.

Also, by working closely with mayors and local councils, I’ve clawed back a $2.8 million federal investment for Ridgewood Water to address lead in the water, PFAS, and other forever chemicals impacting more than 62,000 residents across Ridgewood, Wyckoff, Midland Park, and Glen Rock. I’m also working with other towns across the Fifth District, including Park Ridge, Mahwah, and Fair Lawn, to replicate this success and claw back even more of our own tax dollars to help improve their water treatment facilities. The more of our federal tax dollars that we get back to Northern New Jersey, the less our towns have to charge in local taxes — and I’m all about lowering taxes.

And by 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.

But it’s not just about information about the problems in our schools. It’s also about fighting to get it fixed. A key piece of my bipartisan legislation, the 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 that have lead in their water. Far too many schools, including in New Jersey, were built decades or even a century ago, with lead-coated pipes that run into the water fountains and school cafeterias.

And here in Sussex County at the Vernon Waste Mountain, and around the district, I’ve successfully helped lead the fight against illegal dumping which seeps into our families’ drinking water. 

The bottom line: it’s absolutely 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.

Clean drinking water for our kids isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue — it’s a what’s good for Jersey families issue. 

These steps — as part of the Clean Water Action Plan — will help ensure 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


May 24, 2024
Press

RELEASE: Gottheimer Joins Congregation Bnai Yeshurun to Discuss Rising Antisemitism and Standing Against Hate at Home

Above: Gottheimer speaking at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun. TEANECK, NJ — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer held a fifth community discussion at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun. Gottheimer dialogued with Rabbi Elliot Schrier about rising antisemitism — online, on campuses, and in North Jersey communities — and his work to combat it. During the event, Congressman Gottheimer highlighted the record […]



May 23, 2024
Press

RELEASE: Gottheimer, D’Esposito Introduce New Legislation to Hold the MTA Accountable for its Hypocrisy

Above: Gottheimer and D’Esposito announcing new legislation to stop MTA CEO Janno Lieber from using federal funds for a taxpayer-funded vehicle. WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Thursday, May 23, 2024, U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Anthony D’Esposito (NY-4) introduced new legislation to stop MTA CEO Janno Lieber’s continued Congestion Tax hypocrisy. While hardworking commuters, nurses, teachers, […]



May 22, 2024
Press

RELEASE: House Passes Gottheimer-led Bipartisan Legislation to Modernize Crypto Regulation and Protect Consumers

Above: Gottheimer on the House floor. WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, the Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act (FIT21), which U.S. Congressman Gottheimer helped negotiate in the Financial Services Committee, passed the House with bipartisan support. This bipartisan legislation clarifies regulation for digital assets, bolsters consumer protection, and ensures […]