New Jersey's critical water and sewer plants will get nearly $1.3 billion in upgrades and storm protection measures under a bill signed Monday by Gov. Chris Christie.
The governor authorized $1.28 billion for improvements to drinking water and sewage treatment plants across the state. The money includes $355 million to better protect facilities affected by Superstorm Sandy, which caused an estimated $2.6 billion in damages to wastewater and drinking water infrastructure across the state in October 2012.
"There can be no compromises in protecting the viability, integrity and resiliency of the state's water-supply and wastewater systems, especially in areas that are vulnerable to floods," Christie said. "This infrastructure must be rigorously maintained to ensure protection of public health and the environment. This legislation is an investment in the health of our environment, the quality of our drinking water, our quality of life, our economy, and New Jersey's future."
The legislation provides no-cost and low-cost loans through the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, an independent state financing agency, in partnership with the state Department of Environmental Protection. In many cases, plant operators are using the trust's financing program for bridge loans and access to immediate funding pending disaster reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Nearly 100 wastewater treatment plants serving about 3.5 million people statewide reported being affected by Sandy. The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, which serves 1.4 million people, was completely shut down by major flooding of its treatment plant. The Middlesex County Utilities Authority, serving 797,000 people, lost three pump stations, causing significant discharges to Raritan Bay.
In addition, 427 of 604 community water supply systems lost power. Of those, 70 were seriously affected by prolonged power loss, and 35 systems serving more than 360,000 people were subject to boil water advisories due to concerns about contamination of their supplies.
Facilities getting money under the bill include pump stations in Sayreville and Edison; a sewage plant in Union Beach; a water treatment plant in Millstone; and facilities in Newark, Hoboken and Bergen County.