DEP COMMISSIONER BOB MARTIN DISCUSSES PROGRESS IN HARDENING
CRITICAL WATER AND WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE AGAINST STORMS
INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION REMAINS KEY PART OF CHRISTIE
ADMINISTRATION’S STORM-RESILIENCY STRATEGY
(15/P71) TRENTON – Legislation Governor Chris Christie signed this week authorizing up to $1.94 billion in state financing for projects to improve drinking water and wastewater infrastructure includes up to $776 million to protect these facilities from storms and flooding such as occurred during Superstorm Sandy, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin said today.
During a press conference at the Middlesex County Utilities Authority (MCUA) Sayreville pump station, Commissioner Martin explained that hardening this infrastructure remains an important component of the Christie Administration’s efforts to make New Jersey more resilient against severe storms.
“The Christie Administration has put together an aggressive and innovative financing program that is moving projects quickly through the funding and design pipeline so that they get the improvements they need to be better protected against future severe storms such as Sandy,” Commissioner Martin said. “We are being very forward thinking in making sure we never see the widespread service disruptions and environmental impacts that occurred as a result of Sandy.”
When Sandy barreled into New Jersey on Oct. 29, 2012, it caused an estimated $2.6 billion damages to drinking water and wastewater infrastructure statewide.
Some 430 of the state’s 604 community water supply systems lost power as a result of Sandy. Of these, 70 were seriously affected by prolonged power loss. Thirty-five systems serving more than 360,000 people were subject to boil water advisories due to concerns about contamination of their supplies.
The storm also knocked out or severely impacted 100 wastewater treatment plants serving 3.5 million people, or more than 40 percent of the state’s population, with some of the most significant impacts occurring at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission plant in Newark and to facilities operated by the MCUA.
The MCUA, which serves about 800,000 people, lost two key pump stations – the Sayreville and Edison pump stations – to Sandy’s record storm surge, causing significant discharges of untreated wastewater to Raritan Bay.
The MCUA has applied for nearly $185 million in state financing for projects to storm-harden the pump stations. The financing will also fund upgrades to its wastewater treatment plant and about two miles of sewer mains.
“This work is fundamentally about restoration and mitigation,” said Richard Fitamant, Middlesex County Utilities Authority Executive Director. “We look forward to replacing the equipment at our two pump stations that were compromised by Superstorm Sandy, and building flood walls around them to avoid the kind of shutdowns that these major storm events can cause.”
Floodwaters completely inundated the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission’s Newark treatment plant, causing extended discharges of partially treated wastewater to Newark Bay and New York Harbor. The plant is the fifth largest sewage treatment plant in the U.S., serving 1.4 million people. The plant continues to undergoing extensive repairs and upgrades, including construction of a massive flood wall to protect its infrastructure.
The federal government has funded more than $250 million in repairs. The PVSC has also applied for $78 million in financing through the state as a result of the legislation signed this week.
NJEIT and the DEP have been working in partnership for decades to provide financing to projects that will protect and enhance water quality. This mission took on added significance following Sandy, with the development of the Statewide Assistance Infrastructure Loan, or SAIL, program, which expedites the financing process to get work done more quickly in anticipation of Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster reimbursement.
Operators of this infrastructure are in the process of designing or have started work on a variety of storm-resiliency projects, including replacement and hardening of pump station, restoring and protecting key treatment and administrative facilities, construction of flood-protection walls and elevation of existing walls, ensuring backup power generators are protected, relocating infrastructure to safer ground, and construction of pumping systems to remove flood waters.
The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission has received more than $250 million in federal funding for ongoing repairs and upgrades to its infrastructure. The PVSC has also applied for $78 million in state financing for additional flood-proofing and resiliency projects.
Other storm-hardening projects authorized for funding under the legislation signed this week include:
- More than $33 million for work to construct a sea wall and improve the resiliency of the Atlantic County Utilities Authority treatment plant in Atlantic City
- More than $72 million for ongoing restoration and resiliency projects for the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority in Union Beach
- Nearly $16 million for construction of wet weather pumping stations for Hoboken
- Nearly $20 million for sewage treatment plant mitigation and resiliency for Middletown
- Nearly $10 million for cogeneration, emergency generators, flood walls and stormwater control improvements for Brigantine
- $40 million in sewerage resiliency projects for Jersey City
In addition to water and wastewater infrastructure resiliency, the Christie Administration’s resiliency strategy includes construction of statewide network of engineered beaches and dunes, development of projects to protect urban waterfronts, moving homeowners out of flood-prone areas, enactment of a statewide elevation standard for construction in flood hazard areas, and streamlining regulatory processes to ensure recovery and rebuilding move ahead as quickly as possible.
For more information about EIT and its financing programs, visit: www.njeit.org
For more information on the Administration’s resiliency and rebuilding efforts, visit: http://nj.gov/gorr/