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Turner Bill Would Provide Vital Funding For High Hazard Dam Restoration Projects

$17.45 Million in Previously Approved Bond Monies Would Fund Projects Throughout State

TRENTON — The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee this week approved a bill sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner that would provide $17.45 million in previously approved bond monies to fund vital restorations and repairs to dams throughout the state currently posing a high or significant hazard.

“These funds are particularly timely considering that a recent DEP audit revealed that roughly one-third of the state’s potentially hazardous dams are overdue for inspection,” said Sen. Turner (D-Mercer). “We can’t afford to ignore the dangers that aging dams pose to neighboring communities in terms of property damage and loss of life. Ignoring these dams could potentially unleash a torrent of hazards on the surrounding environment.”

The Department of Environmental Protection classifies dams in New Jersey under four hazard classifications. All of the dams that would be repaired or restored under this bill are either Class I (high hazard) or Class II (significant hazard) dams. The local and private projects being funded were selected by the DEP through an application and review process and are ready for construction.

Bill S-922 would appropriate $16.95 million under the “Dam, Lake, Stream, Flood Control, Water Resources, and Wastewater Treatment Project Bond Act of 2003” to fund 18 restoration and repair projects across a wide swath of the state from Sussex to Burlington Counties. The low-interest loans would be provided through the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to owners of private dams, as co-applicants with local government units, or to local government units that own dams.

The bill would also appropriate $500,000 under the “Green Acres, Clean Water, Farmland and Historic Preservation Bond Act of 1992” to support restoration projects at Lake Solitude Dam in High Bridge and Point View Reservoir Dam operated by the Passaic Valley Water Commission. Additionally, the bill would appropriate $1.371 million from the same bond act to fund the restoration of two high hazard state dams. The Musconetcong Lake Dam in Morris County would receive $371,075 and the Hunt and Honey Lake Dams in Mercer County would receive $1 million.

“After a careful vetting process, the highest priority projects were chosen on the basis of the imminent threat they pose to the surrounding community. These funds will help protect homes, businesses and fragile ecosystems throughout the state from Sussex to Burlington counties,” added Sen. Turner.

The funds being appropriated from the 1992 bond fund are “recycled” monies that are available due to loan repayments, project cancellations, withdrawals, and cost savings. The funds being appropriated from the 2003 bond fund are part of the $45.8 million still available from the original $95 million appropriation.

The bill was previously approved by the Senate Environment Committee and now heads to the full Senate for a final vote in the upper house.

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