Protecting Families from Forever Chemicals, Making Life More Affordable
Building on Gottheimer’s Clean Water Action Plan
Above: Gottheimer at Mahwah’s three million gallon water tank announcing federal investment clawed back for a new and improved filtration system.
Today, January 24, 2023, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer announced “Lower Tax Tuesday” with a new bipartisan federal investment of $800,000 successfully clawed back from Washington to Mahwah for a new and improved filtration system. This new investment will help Mahwah meet updated State clean drinking water standards and protect families from forever chemicals known as PFAS.
Gottheimer’s “Lower Tax Tuesday” Announcement of New Federal Investment Clawed Back from Washington to Mahwah includes:
$800,000 in Federal Clean Water Investment for Mahwah Township — to design, purchase, manufacture, and implement a new filtration system for their largest well. Mahwah operates seven ground wells which pull 68% of the town’s water supply, with the remaining 32% coming from Veolia. Their largest well — Well #19 — is offline, waiting for the installation of a new filtration system to meet the State’s new PFAS standards, according to updated NJDEP guidelines. This new federal investment will help implement an entirely new filtration system for Well #19 and enable Mahwah to address lead, PFAS, and forever chemicals. Once the filtration system is completed and the well is filtered to new standards, it can be put back online.
Easing the Burden on the Township’s Budget & Helping Lower Taxes: Without this federal investment, the Township would have been forced to bond for it — to be able to cover the purchase of the new filtration system. That would have hit the property tax line. By clawing back this new $800,000 federal investment, residents can save on their local property taxes and the town can meet budget goals — which all help make life more affordable for families here.
“Overall, this new investment we’re clawing back to Mahwah — our federal tax dollars being put to work right here — will help get the largest well fully online, fully in compliance with the State’s guidelines, and ensure families and children have safe water to drink,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Without this federal investment, the Township would have been forced to bond for it — to be able to cover the purchase of the new filtration system. That would have hit the property tax line. This would have been a costly measure, and, because it has been avoided, we’re helping residents save on their local property taxes and enabling the town to meet budget goals — which all help make life more affordable for families here.”
“Our township owes you, Congressman Josh Gottheimer, a very big thank you. What you have done for our Township relieves our Township residents and taxpayers of the burden of paying for this filtration system. Congressman Gottheimer, you continue to do what’s right for the American people and for that you deserve a very big thank you and job well done,” said Mahwah Mayor James Wysocki.
“Water quality has a daily impact on the lives of all New Jerseyans, and when we turn on the tap, we expect clean, safe drinking water for our families. We need to make strong investments in our infrastructure now to look to the future of water treatment, ensuring we are removing these ‘forever chemicals’ like PFOA from our supply. That’s why investments like these in Mahwah are so important. We commend Congressman Gottheimer on securing the funding for water quality improvements in Mahwah, and we look forward to continuing to work with him to make water quality improvements throughout the state of New Jersey, especially in communities of color that have some of the oldest infrastructure, and are most in need of improvements,” said Matt Salton, Federal Campaigns Manager, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters (LCV).
Gottheimer was joined today by Mahwah’s three million gallon water tank by Mahwah Mayor James Wysocki, Mahwah Council President Daniel May, Mahwah Council Member Ward Donigian, Mahwah Council Member Jonathan Wong, Mahwah Council Member Michelle Crowe Paz, Mahwah Council Member Kim Bolan, Mahwah Council Member Janet Ariemma, and Matt Salton of the League of Conservation Voters.
Below: Gottheimer with local leaders to announce a federal investment clawed back to Mahwah for a new and improved filtration system.
Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Today, on what I’m calling — “Lower Tax Tuesday” — I’m making multiple stops in Jersey to announce new federal investments we’ve successfully clawed back from Washington to help protect our communities, and lower the burden on our town and county budgets, which, in turn, helps us lower taxes for our families.
I’m coming straight from Bogota, where I announced $255,000 for the Bogota Police Department and $954,000 for the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office in new public safety investment — all to purchase new security and communication equipment to keep our communities safe.
Another key part of keeping our communities safe — and also healthy — is ensuring our families and children have access to clean drinking water. That is what’s bringing us together here today.
Mayor Jim Wysocki, Council President Daniel May, Councilman Ward Donijian — the entire council in this beautiful community — care deeply about Mahwah and the nearly 30,000 families who get their water from these wells here. Clean water – free of lead and any chemicals – has and will continue to be one of the most important issues to them. And I want to thank the leaders for working so closely with me and my team on this critical issue.
And now, we have great news for the families of Mahwah: working together, we’ve 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.
This new federal investment 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.
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 or forever chemicals like substances known as PFAS.
I believe that every child — every family — deserves to drink water that’s free of lead and dangerous forever 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.
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, and why, now, we’re continuing to fight for new resources across Northern New Jersey.
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.
And, according to some recent research, approximately 480 school buildings across a third of New Jersey’s school districts recorded lead levels that exceeded 15 parts per billion, which is unacceptable.
The EPA estimates that at least 20 percent of human lead exposure is from drinking water.
But it’s not just lead in our water that we need to worry about. PFAS in our water are forever chemicals from things like Teflon, food packaging, and stain repellents, which have been linked to numerous other adverse health effects, including cancers and impaired child development. A federal review has outlined a host of health issues stemming from PFAS exposure, including liver damage, decreased fertility, and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease.
I helped craft and pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which invested more than $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.
We cannot afford to take these risks with our kids; the stakes are simply too high. And 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.
Just last week, I announced a new critical federal investment clawed back from Washington to Fair Lawn for new and improved water treatment. This investment will help keep Fair Lawn water clean by addressing three wells that are currently offline from increased levels of lead and forever chemicals.
We also clawed back a new 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.
And we 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.
And, today, as I mentioned earlier, working closely with the Mayor and Council, we’ve successfully clawed back a new $800,000 dollar federal investment for Mahwah to design, purchase, and implement a new filtration system for their largest well.
Mahwah operates seven ground wells which pull 68 percent of the town’s water supply, with the remaining 32 percent coming from Veolia. But well number 19 — their largest well — is offline and teetering on the edge of the State’s new PFAS standards, according to updated NJDEP guidelines. That’s why the Township’s leaders have been working so hard to ensure a new filtration system can be put in place — to better protect the community.
This new federal investment will help implement an entirely new filtration system at the well in question and enable Mahwah to address lead, PFAS, and forever chemicals. Once the filtration system is completed and the well is filtered to the new standards, it can be put back online and Mahwah will once again have access to an entirely safe water supply.
I’m also told that, without this federal investment, the Township would have been forced to bond for it — to be able to cover the purchase of the new filtration system. That would have hit the property tax line. This would have been a costly measure, and, because it has been avoided, we’re helping residents save on their local property taxes and enabling the town to meet budget goals — which all help make life more affordable for families here.
Right now, Mahwah, its Water Department, and its Water Utility Engineer are in the midst of the design process for the new filtration system, and then they will move on to the manufacturing phase.
Overall, this new investment we’re clawing back to Mahwah — our federal tax dollars being put to work right here — will help get the largest well fully online, fully in compliance with the State’s guidelines, and ensure families and children have safe water to drink.
Additionally, beyond Mahwah, as part of the billion dollars I helped secure for Jersey through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, I’ve also asked the Governor to allocate resources for these communities and others in my District as part of what the state will receive for critical water infrastructure.
Many of our schools have also been working year-in and year-out to replace their pipes and change the water fountains. 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. But it’s expensive to fix and they’ve needed extra help. The resources we got in 2018, as part of my bipartisan legislation, the Lead-Free Schools Act, are helping fix that and keeping our kids and teachers safe.
We also need every single provider, private and public, to remove lead from all service lines going from the street to the homes in our communities.
Veolia Water 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.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill provides investment to water utilities and municipal water systems to do just that.
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. Not just on Lower Tax Tuesday, but every day of the week, every week of the year.
This is a bipartisan issue that can bring everyone together, 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.
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