(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel advanced legislation on Monday sponsored by Assembly Democrats Linda Stender, John F. McKeon and Annette Quijano to require public water systems to provide prompt public notice when a boil water notice is in effect.
The sponsors note that the legislation underscores the necessity of ensuring that the public is informed and regularly updated during emergencies.
“Families must be notified promptly when it comes to matters that concern public health,” said Stender (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “A public advisory must be issued quickly and publicized to ensure every household is aware of any contamination concerns.”
“It’s a no-brainer,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “This must be required to stress the immediacy and importance of keeping residents informed if a problem arises that affects the water system.”
“This is about helping families exercise the necessary precautions in an emergency, whether minor or major,” said Quijano (D-Union). “It’s the responsible action to take for public water systems.”
Under the bill (A-1384), the owner/operator of the public water system would be required to notify the public of the boil water notice as soon as possible, but in no case later than 24 hours after the public water system learns of the emergency or other condition.
A public water system would have to notify its customers of a boil water notice via the preferred means of contact of each customer of the water system. The bill provides that customers would be asked to identify their preference for receiving a boil water notice via telephone call, electronic mail, or text message, and that customers would be limited to specifying one telephone number or one electronic mail address as the preferred means of contact.
The bill requires that a boil water notice contain the following information: the name of the public water system affected; the geographical area affected; the date of the occurrence giving rise to the boil water notice; the corrective actions to be taken by the consumers; and a telephone number where customers may reach an appropriate party to address questions or other concerns. The bill also requires the owner or operator of the public water system to notify its customers of the rescission of a boil water notice in the same manner that the notice was issued. The bill would go into effect 90 days after enacted.
The legislation was approved by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.