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Madden Bill Would Ensure Continuity Of Service From Spill Compensation Fund

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Fred H. Madden, which would renew the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) commitment to protecting the health and well being of homeowners with private well ground contamination by requiring the DEP to cover the cost of repairs to Point of Entry Treatment (POET) systems has been unanimously approved by the Senate Environment Committee.

The “New Jersey Spill Compensation Fund” compensates homeowners for all installation and maintenance expenses associated with POET systems. The bill defines a POET system as a system used to remove contaminants from the water entering a structure from a potable well. The Fund is paid for by a tax imposed on the sale of certain petroleum and chemical products.

“This bill would work to remedy a quality of life and safety issue when it comes to providing clean drinking water for owners of homes with wells,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “Through this legislation, we would be ensuring continuity of service for these necessary repairs, at no additional cost to taxpayers or homeowners. Without this legislation, however, homeowners would be responsible for covering the cost of repairs and maintenance to water purifying systems used to clean ground contamination, for which they are not to blame.”

Senator Madden’s bill, S-1824, would ensure continuity of service from the Spill Fund once a home has been sold. All home real estate sale contracts involving a private potable water supply that has been treated by a POET system, and has had a claim submitted to the Spill Fund, would have to include a provision requiring the DEP’s notification of the sale. Home sellers would be required to provide buyers with contact information and monitoring and maintenance information. Title closing sales would be postponed until both the buyer and seller have received and reviewed a copy of the DEP’s notification. The bill would also require Spill Fund administrators to notify buyers of their ability to submit a claim to the Fund for payment of the ongoing monitoring and maintenance costs of the treatment system.

Until recently, home buyers were able to make direct claims for compensation to the Spill Fund. Recent DEP regulations now prohibit compensation for expenses once properties are sold.

“In a fragile housing market, it is hard enough for people to sell their homes, and current DEP regulations make it that much more difficult. This bill would help to quell the fears of homeowners who have been hesitant to purchase a home with a well because of potential contamination. If they have a guarantee that they will be able to collect from the Spill Fund, they will be more inclined to purchase these homes,” said Senator Madden.

This measure now heads to the Budget and Appropriations Committee for approval. #

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