Legislation sponsored by Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green enabling the 30-year old New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust program to continue funding critical projects to provide safe water and clean drinking water throughout the state has been signed into law.
“For decades now this program has played a critical role in protecting the public’s health by supporting projects that deliver clean, safe drinking water, protect our water resources, and promote responsible economic development,” said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “This funding will support critical enhancements and improvements throughout our state, particularly in areas impacted by Superstorm Sandy or those struggling to deal with the presence of lead in their drinking water.”
Specifically, the law (A-3883) authorizes the Trust to expend up to $411.35 million, as well as any unexpended balances from previous authorizations, to provide loans with an interest rate at or below the prevailing market rate to various government entities to help fund critical environmental infrastructure projects.
The annual reallocation will help fund a portion of the total costs of 80 eligible projects sponsored primarily by local governments, public authorities, or public water utilities.
Among the eligible projects are those included in the “Storm Sandy and State Fiscal Year 2017 Clean Water Project Eligibility List” and the “Storm Sandy and State Fiscal Year 2017 Drinking Water Project Priority List,” as well as six clean water projects, and two drinking water environmental infrastructure projects that received loans in the past and now require supplemental funding in order to meet actual costs.
Given the state’s heightened focus on lead reduction, the legislation also authorizes the Trust to issue market-rate, short-term, temporary loans for wastewater treatment and water supply projects on the Interim Financing Program Project Priority List for the reduction of lead in publicly-owned facilities that are otherwise ineligible to receive funding for that purpose.
A full list of projects authorized for funding this year can be viewed in the charts listed in the legislation.
Since its creation in 1985, the Trust, in partnership with the Department of Environmental Protection, has provided low cost NJEIFP loans for the construction of environmental infrastructure projects that enhance and protect ground and surface water resources, ensure the safety of drinking water supplies, and make responsible and sustainable economic development possible.
Since 1985, NJEIFP loans to local government units and some private water companies have totaled more than $6.5 billion of which the Trust has provided more than $2.7 billion in loans to finance wastewater systems, combined sewer overflow abatement, nonpoint source pollution control and safe drinking water supplies generating more than 130,000 construction projects throughout the State.