(TRENTON) – With over 10 percent of New Jersey’s land area covered by water-resistant surfaces, the state is particularly prone to flooding problems and pollution. Aiming to help address excess rainwater, legislation sponsored by Assembly members John McKeon, Nancy Pinkin and Cleopatra Tucker that would allow municipalities and counties to create stormwater utilities and management policies cleared the full Assembly, 49-27, Thursday.
“The lack of regulation and management of storm water has caused extensive problems for New Jersey,” said McKeon (D-Essex, Morris). “Rainwater run-off carries with it debris, bacteria, and chemicals which can lead to pollution of our waters and drinking water sources. Without regulation, we will continue to see a rise in pollution, flooding and property damage. This bill enables towns and counties to take the next step in stemming the problems caused by stormwater.”
Unlike drinking water supply and wastewater systems, New Jersey lacks a dedicated funding source, and receives few upgrades and little maintenance. The current infrastructure is inadequate to manage stormwater, especially as increased development and large storms generate more runoff.
“Currently, there’s no open space or stormwater infrastructure to capture the large amount of rainwater brought on by storms,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex), who is chair of the Assembly Environment Committee. “We also have to acknowledge that the pesticide treatments, fertilizers used to maintain property grounds and even gasoline from roadways are all washed into our water systems when it rains. We can do more to protect New Jersey’s water bodies and water supply if we just manage excess rainwater better.”
“Excessive flooding is a problem in many areas of the state,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “It has become costly for municipalities to maintain roadways and communities prone to flooding when it rains. Creating a system to address this problem will go a long way in improving local stormwater services and allow towns to do more for residents.”
The bill (A-2964) permits municipalities, counties, and certain authorities to establish and operate stormwater utilities. The Department of Environmental protection would be required to create a manual to provide rate structure guidance, including the means and method of computing rates for stormwater utilities. Municipalities would be allowed to contract with private firms for the operation or improvement of stormwater utilities.