Thursday, August 8, 2013

Help on the way for NJ Sandy-damaged water facilities

Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission worker in Newark checks
equipment damaged by Superstorm Sandy- Photo: The Record

The owners and operators of New Jersey drinking water and wastewater treatment plants severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy had to be applauding yesterday, as Gov. Chris Christie signed into law S-2815--a bill that allocates up to $5 billion for repairs and to harden the facilities against future catastrophic weather events.

More than 100 drinking water and wastewater treatment plants incurred more than $2.6 billion in damages as a result of Sandy, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

In today's NJ Spotlight, Tom Johnson reports:
Some of the damage was catastrophic. The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, the fifth-largest sewage treatment plant in the nation, was completely flooded during the storm, pouring hundreds of millions of gallons of raw sewage into the state’s waterways, according to environmental officials.
Many of the facilities suffering damage had their own backup generating units -- with enough fuel to cope with short-term outages -- but the blackouts extended far beyond what was anticipated.
Under the bill, the state hopes to count on funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide much of the financing to bankroll the initiative. In the short term, the state’s Environmental Infrastructure Trust would funnel so-called bridge loans to local governments and authorities, enabling them to get a jump on the needed work, with the expectation being that the loans would be repaid with federal dollars.
You can read Tom's full story here.
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Also signed yesterday by Governor Christie
were the following environmental bills:
S-2816/A-4184(Gordon, A.R. Bucco/Andrzejczak, Wagner, Conaway, Barnes) - Environmental Infrastructure Trust to expend certain sums to make loans for environmental infrastructure projects for FY2014
S-2817/A-4183(Whelan, O'Toole/Eustace, Albano, Singleton, Diegnan) - Appropriates funds to DEP for environmental infrastructure projects for FY2014

A-2675/S-1781(Caride, Russo, Rumana, Webber/Sarlo, O'Toole) - Re-appropriates $3 million from "Dam, Lake, Stream, Flood Control, Water Resources, and Wastewater Treatment Project Bond Act of 2003" to fund State flood control projects
A-3890/SS for S-2598 (Eustace, Schepisi, Rudder, Caride, Webber, Wimberly/B. Smith, Whelan) - Provides limited exemption from development regulations to allow certain structures to be raised as high as the highest applicable flood elevation standard

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