Water Quality and Transparency Bills Signed into Law

Trenton – In an effort to improve transparency and accountability around water quality, a package of bills sponsored by Senators Joseph Lagana, Linda Greenstein and Troy Singleton, which will update the “Water Quality Accountability Act” and disclose the existence of lead pipes on residential properties, were signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy.

“Our water infrastructure is widely outdated, and this is just completely unacceptable,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “With the help of federal and state funding, we will replace older lead lines throughout the state. Additionally, we will also make sure they are replaced with material that lasts well into the next century and is safe for all New Jerseyans.”

“Deteriorating lead pipes in residential properties are some of the most dangerous hazards people face in their homes, especially children,” said Senator Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This new law will create greater transparency to ensure homeowners are aware of the risks. By requiring drinking water tests to be made available to residents, and notifying them of the existence of any lead pipes, we will assist our citizens in having the healthiest drinking water possible.”

“The transparency around our quality of drinking water has always been one of the most significant issues facing residents especially as lead content has become a pervasive problem in the state,” said Singleton (D-Burlington), who also championed the landmark law requiring the inventory and replacement of lead service lines. “These two new laws are a part of the foundation we build to shape the future of New Jersey’s water infrastructure, and also improve the health and well-being of every resident.”

The first law, formerly S-647 and sponsored by Senators Greenstein and Singleton, will update the asset management and reporting requirements in the “Water Quality Accountability Act” (WQAA), and call for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to adopt rules involving its implementation.

The new law will also require water purveyors, as part of their asset management plans, to develop a water main renewal program designed to achieve a 150-year or shorter replacement cycle as opposed to the former requirement of achieving a 150-year cycle as determined by a detailed engineering analysis.

The second law, formerly S-828 and sponsored by Senators Lagana and Greenstein, will require public utilities to notify a local unit and utility of any public utility infrastructure project that it plans to undertake within the borders of that local unit and local utility service area at least 180 days prior to initiating work on the public utility infrastructure project.

The third law, formerly S-829 and sponsored by Senators Lagana and Singleton, will require property condition disclosure statements to include the presence of lead pipes. In New Jersey, a real estate broker or salesperson is required to provide a disclosure statement that outlines any defects or deficiencies of a residential property, and now a disclosure for lead plumbing. New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Connecticut also all require a similar disclosure on the presence of lead plumbing.

The fourth law, formerly S-830 and sponsored by Senators Lagana and Greenstein, will supplement the “Safe Drinking Water Act” to allow customers of a public water system to request to have their drinking water tested, free of charge, for the presence of lead and copper if the water system exceeds the lead or copper drinking water standards.  Additionally, the public water system will be required to include a notice on its customers’ bills that advertises the availability of the water tests.