(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John McKeon and Mila Jasey to create a task force to review the state’s drinking water sources was approved by an Assembly panel on Thursday.
The sponsors note the water crisis in Flint Michigan has raised concerns across the country about the water filtration process and the risk of contaminates in the water system, especially lead.
“The situation in Flint Michigan should be a lesson to us all to ensure protection of our water supply,” said McKeon (D-Essex, Morris). “This should be a priority for New Jersey as well. A task force can help us identify
the areas in need of strengthening in regards to the state’s water supply.”
In the legislation, the sponsors also note that New Jersey has history of being proactive in this area and has enacted numerous statutes aimed at protecting the state’s water supply. However, an aging infrastructure and the deterioration of the physical assets of water supply systems present serious risks to the integrity of drinking water and to the environment.
The concurrent resolution (ACR-161) establishes the “Joint Legislative Task Force on Drinking Water Infrastructure” to study and make recommendations concerning issues related to drinking water infrastructure in New Jersey. The task force is charged with identifying both short-term and long-term solutions and making recommendations to address the quality and condition of drinking water infrastructure in the state.
“This is critically important to New Jersey’s families,” said Jasey (D-Essex, Morris). “A task force will allow us to assess the current infrastructure and understand what needs to be done to ensure protection of our water supply.”
In conducting its business, the task force is directed to call upon the Department of Environmental Protection, the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, and the Division of Water in the Board of Public Utilities to offer their respective expertise and experience concerning the condition of the state’s drinking water infrastructure, and what improvements are necessary to ensure a safe drinking water supply.
The task force is to be composed of six members: three members of the Senate appointed by the Senate President, and three members of the General Assembly appointed by the Speaker.
Within six months after the date the task force organizes, it is directed to prepare and submit a report containing its findings and recommendations, including any proposals for legislation and other appropriate legislative or regulatory action.
The concurrent resolution now awaits further consideration by the Assembly Speaker.