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Water Quality Legislation Passes Committee

Trenton – Multiple pieces of legislation sponsored by Senate Urban and Community Affairs Chair Senator Troy Singleton, Senator Ronald Rice and Senator Linda Greenstein, which would address concerns about water infrastructure and water quality in New Jersey, passed the Senate Urban and Community Affairs Committee.

“The quality of public and private water infrastructure in New Jersey has been getting worse by the day, and we are taking action to stem the negative effects they are having on the residents of this State,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “These pieces of legislation are individually important, and together will be the start of rebuilding New Jersey’s water infrastructure.”

“There are thousands of lead services lines in this state, especially in urban areas, and yet nobody knows exactly where they are. This process has to become more transparent,” said Senator Rice (D-Essex). “When people buy homes, they should be made aware of whether or not there are lead service lines running into their home. These lines are expensive to replace for any working family, and they should not be burdened with the extra costs after they purchase a home.”

“Our water infrastructure is outdated, and this is unacceptable,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “As we begin to replace water infrastructure throughout the State, we need to make sure they are replaced with safe material that will last well into the next century.”

The first bill, S-253, sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton, would require a public water system (PWS) to develop a lead service line (LSL) inventory and schedule the replacement of lead service lines in its distribution system. Under the bill, a PWS would be required to compile and submit an inventory of all known LSLs that are used in its distribution system to the State, where the information would be handled by the Department of Environmental Protection.

The second bill, S-320, sponsored by Senator Ronald Rice, would require property disclosure statements to include questions concerning the presence of lead plumbing and lead service lines in residential properties instead of the contract referenced in the bill as written. The bill would also require that if a residential property were determined to be served by a lead service line that the service line is replaced as a condition of the sale.

The third bill, S-647, sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein, would revise asset management and related reporting requirements in the “Water Quality Accountability Act” (WQAA) and require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to adopt rules implementing WQAA. The bill would require water utilities to submit more detailed asset management plans that outline completed planned water infrastructure improvements.

The fourth bill, S-922, sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton, would require the Local Finance Board to make certain findings before approving the dissolution of a municipal water authority. Under the bill, the Local Finance Board would not be able to approve an ordinance that would dissolve a municipal water authority for several reasons. The board must find whether the municipality has implemented an asset management plan for its water system. They must also make sure the municipality has developed a plan to annually dedicate funds to address and remediate the highest priority projects. Lastly, they must ensure that all fund balances held by the authority would only be used for the municipality’s water system and not for general municipal purposes.

The last bill, S-968, sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton, would require public water systems to notify customers and local officials of elevated lead levels in drinking water and would also require landlords to notify their tenants of elevated lead levels.

All five bills were released from committee by a vote of 4-0.