Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Eliana Pintor Marin and Cleopatra Tucker authorizing municipalities to levy special assessments, and issue bonds, to replace certain lead-contaminated water service lines, was approved 73-2 Thursday by the full Assembly.
“This bill will put us one step closer to ensuring that our drinking water is safer to drink and lead free,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “In Newark alone, there are approximately 15,000 homes in which the water service lines connecting the property to the city’s main water line are lead. This can lead to contaminated home drinking water.”
“The impact of lead in plumbing systems can have adverse effects on public health,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “This bill will move us in the right direction by improving these plumbing systems, providing cleaner drinking water and producing better health outcomes.”
The bill (A-4120) also adjusts current law, which allows municipalities to access the cost of “local improvement” projects on local property owners who benefit from the project, to include lead-contaminated home service connections as a local improvement. In addition, it amends a section of the “Local Bond Law,” to permit municipalities and counties to issue 30-year bonds to fund the replacement of lead-contaminated house connections to publicly-owned water systems. These bonds would fund the replacement of lead-contaminated house connections from the distribution main onto privately-owned real property, and into the privately-owned structure.
The bill also amends the “County and Municipal Water Supply Act,” and the “municipal and county utilities authorities law,” such that public entities operating under these laws aren’t prevented from undertaking projects to replace lead-contaminated service connections, regardless of possible private service connection ownership.
The bill applies to service line replacement projects that are, as per current law, (1) undertaken as environmental infrastructure projects, and (2) funded either by loans from the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank, or by loans issued through the Department of Environmental Protection.
The bill was introduced on June 7 and referred to the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.