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Senate Passes Smith, Codey, Greenstein, Bateman Bill to Authorize Local Governments and Authorities to Establish Stormwater Utilities

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Bob Smith, Senator Richard Codey, Senator Linda Greenstein, and Senator Christopher Bateman that would authorize municipalities, counties and certain authorities to establish stormwater utilities was passed by the Senate today.

“New Jersey faces extensive problems due to inadequate stormwater infrastructure and management.  Rainwater runoff that flows into sewer systems and waterways contains bacteria and potentially hazardous chemicals, which can pollute our drinking water,” said Senator Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset).  “With New Jersey as densely populated as it is, we need the proper infrastructure in place to handle contaminated stormwater in order to avoid our drinking water from becoming tainted.  If we have this infrastructure in place, the health and well-being of New Jerseyans will improve.”

The bill, S-1073, would authorize municipalities, counties, and authorities  to establish a stormwater utility for the purposes of acquiring, constructing, improving, maintaining, and operating stormwater management systems in the county or municipality, consistent with state and federal laws, rules, and regulations.

The bill would also provide that the governing bodies of municipalities and counties may enter into shared services agreements to provide for the construction, improvement, maintenance, or operation of stormwater management systems in the municipalities, consistent with State and federal laws, rules, and regulations.

“Our stormwater systems continue to be neglected until they break down causing flooding of polluted stormwater runoff,” said Senator Codey (D-Essex/Morris).  “This bill will rectify the lack of maintenance the systems have endured and will provide the upgrades needed to ensure we have the best systems in place.”

Any county, municipality, or authority that establishes a stormwater utility would be authorized to charge and collect reasonable fees and other charges to recover the stormwater utility’s costs for stormwater management.  These fees and other charges may be charged to and collected from the owner or occupant, or both, of any real property from which originates stormwater runoff which directly or indirectly enters the stormwater management system or the waters of the State.

“This bill will create healthier stormwater systems in our state which will help lower the risk of flooding in many areas,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer-Middlesex).  “This will set in place a structure for municipalities to generate the resources needed to regulate stormwater systems as efficiently as possible.”

A county, municipality, or authority would be authorized to use collected fees to pay only for the cost of things like the initial establishment of a stormwater utility and ongoing related administrative expenses, capital expenditures, including planning, design, engineering, acquisition, construction, and improvement of a stormwater management system, and operation and maintenance expenditures of a stormwater management system.

Currently, many municipalities lack the proper infrastructure to handle contaminated stormwater.  This has led to health issues across the state.

The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 25-15.