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Mukherji, Watson Coleman & Gusciora Bill to Allocate Funds for Infrastructure Repair Loans Gains Unanimous Assembly Approval

Bipartisan legislation Assembly Democrats Raj Mukherji, Bonnie Watson Coleman and Reed Gusciora sponsored to appropriate approximately $22.5 million in 2003 bond act monies for loans to fund dam restoration projects Monday passed by a vote of 80-0 in the Assembly.

The bill (A-3229) would enable the state to use $22,463,000 from the “Dam, Lake, Stream, Flood Control, Water Resources and Wastewater Treatment Project Bond Act of 2003” for loans to owners of private dams or to municipal units that own dams to finance their restoration projects. Monies for the designated projects have been made available from project cancellations, withdrawals, cost savings, interest earnings and loan repayments.

“Given the increasing number of small dam failures due to the lack of maintenance and inspection in our state, it’s critical that we prioritize investing in infrastructure to avoid more damage in the future, or – God forbid – the devastation of a major dam failure, which New Jersey is lucky enough to have never experienced,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when it comes to the public welfare.”

“There is no dam – no matter how well-constructed – that can function efficiently without proper upkeep,” said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “These funds will enable dam owners to make repairs as appropriate and prevent further damage.”

“We must be proactive about maintaining our infrastructure in New Jersey,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “This bill will give dam owners the means to act responsibly and keep these structures in good working condition.”

The “Dam, Lake, Stream, Flood Control, Water Resources, and Wastewater Treatment Project Bond Act of 2003” included $95 million for loans to owners of private dams, as co-applicants with local government units, or to municipal units that own dams, to finance the costs of dam restoration and repair projects undertaken by, or on behalf of, the owners of dams. These funds were first appropriated for specific projects in June 2005. A subsequent appropriation of $16.95 million was made in May 2010.

The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration.