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NJ sets tougher standards for drinking water suppliers

Jon Hurdle | November 12, 2021 | NJ Spotlight |

New Jersey drinking water utilities must now provide more details of their plans to upgrade their pipes and other infrastructure and will be subject to enforcement by the Department of Environmental Protection, which will post the status of their works on its website.

The new requirements are contained in a bill that amends the Water Quality Accountability Act, a 2017 law that set standards for the renewal of New Jersey’s aging network of drinking water pipes. Gov. Phil Murphy signed the measure into law on Tuesday.

The original law required utilities to publish their plans for renewing, operating and maintaining their pipe network — a process called asset management — so that they can plan for capital improvements and customers can have a safe and reliable water supply.

Passage of the earlier law was hailed as an important step in overhauling a drinking water system that was neglected for years, leading in some cases to water main breaks and costly emergency repairs.

But the law didn’t require enforcement by the DEP and it didn’t mandate that details of utilities’ asset-management programs be published. The law also didn’t require utilities to state how much they spent on emergency repairs, as distinct from routine maintenance.


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