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Assembly Panel Clears Verrelli, McKnight, & Wimberly Measure to Establish the Household Water Assistance Program

(TRENTON) – To reduce the cost of water services in New Jersey, Assembly Democrats Anthony Verrelli (D-Hunterdon, Mercer), Angela V. McKnight (D-Hudson), and Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic) sponsor a measure approved by the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee on Monday to establish the “Household Water Assistance Program”.

The bill (A-5994) would require the Commissioner of Community Affairs to establish the “Household Water Assistance Program” which would provide assistance to eligible households to reduce the cost of water services, prevent disconnection of water services, and restore water services to those who are not able to pay. Additionally, the bill would require $75 million to be appropriated from the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021” to the Department of Community Affairs to administer the fund.

Annually, the commissioner would be required to adopt an expenditure plan for assistance to be provided under the program through the “Water Rate Assistance Fund”, which includes monies appropriated by the legislature as well as federal and other state grants.

To ensure that the program receives adequate attention, the bill would also establish a “Household Water Assistance Advisory Group” to advise the commissioner on the development of the program.

Upon committee approval of the measure, Assembly members Verrelli, McKnight, and Wimberly issued the following joint statement:

“Every resident in New Jersey deserves access to safe, sufficient, and affordable water and sanitation. For far too many low-income residents, the cost of basic water and sewer services exceeds four percent of their household income.  No one should be subject to potential health issues due to unsanitary conditions.  This measure is necessary to ensure safe water and sanitation is accessible to all.”

The bill now heads to the speaker for further consideration.