DEP Seeks Input on Water Infrastructure Investment Plan (WIIP), Commences Virtual Engagement Sessions January 24 and 27 to Assess Needs and Set Priorities for Projects to be Funded by Historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Continuing State Investments
TRENTON – New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette today announced the launch of the state’s Water Infrastructure Investment Plan. This innovative effort aims to better understand and resolve water infrastructure challenges plaguing New Jersey communities and utilities through short- and long-term investments that will create good-paying jobs while delivering safe, reliable drinking water, reducing flooding, and improving the quality of New Jersey’s waterways.
Over the next three months, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank (I-Bank) will engage with a broad array of stakeholders in developing the Water Infrastructure Investment Plan (WIIP) parameters for the first of a five-year period. Direct engagement with communities and utilities about their water needs and challenges will enable DEP to set project priorities and establish the funding packages that will best support water system operators in upgrading drinking water, stormwater and wastewater infrastructure throughout the state.
The WIIP will be fueled by new federal funding under the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and continuing state appropriations championed by Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature.
“This Water Infrastructure Investment Plan reaffirms our commitment to modernize New Jersey’s aging water infrastructure and deliver safe drinking water to our residents,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “This once-in-a-generation opportunity allows New Jerseyans to participate in the planning process to shape and better their communities through these investments. I am grateful for the work of President Biden and our Congressional delegation to ensure that New Jersey receives billions of dollars for these critical water infrastructure projects while advancing environmental justice.”
“By coming together to shape the Wastewater Infrastructure Investment Plan, we can better deliver what New Jersey residents deserve and expect: safe drinking water when they turn on the tap, streets and businesses not so easily overcome with floodwaters, and waterways that are clean and vibrant,” said DEP Commissioner LaTourette. “This is our moment to make once-in-a-generation investments that will create jobs improving our public and environmental health, while motivating long-term term growth in communities that our infrastructure investments will uplift and support. My DEP colleagues and I are inviting every New Jersey community and water utility to join us in this exciting work.”
“Investing in New Jersey’s water infrastructure supports healthy, thriving communities while protecting the environment and creating good-paying jobs that cannot be outsourced,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides a historic opportunity to Build a Better America, especially for overburdened and underserved communities. The law provides the largest ever investment in water and I applaud Governor Murphy’s leadership in putting these dollars to work where they’re needed most. EPA encourages all communities to invest in long-term health protections through water infrastructure, and we look forward to continuing a strong partnership with New Jersey and all states to get this right.”
“Modernizing New Jersey’s aging water infrastructure is not only critical to protecting the health of our families and our environment, but it also creates jobs and helps lay the foundation for future economic growth,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker. “I was proud to support the bipartisan infrastructure bill that delivered this critical funding and applaud Governor Murphy and Commissioner LaTourette for their commitment to investing in New Jersey communities.”
“This historic investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help strengthen and modernize our state’s water infrastructure so that we can create new, good-paying jobs, ensure we are delivering safe drinking water to every home, and protect our coastal communities from the climate crisis,” said 6th District U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone. “As Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I fought to ensure that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided significant funding to remove toxic lead service lines and clean up PFAS contamination from our water. I look forward to seeing this in action as we work together to bolster economic growth and make sure that every household can trust the water coming from the tap.”
“Our communities here in New Jersey and across America will benefit tremendously from upgraded water infrastructure,” said 9th District U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. “For too long, outdated sewer and drinking water systems have posed a risk to public health and safety. Today’s massive investment will help our kids access clean and safety drinking water, improve quality of our rivers, streams, and beaches, create union jobs in New Jersey and help alleviate what is an expensive burden on our local governments. This is all thanks to a Democratic Congress and Biden Administration focusing on bringing our nation’s water systems into the 21st century. I look forward to working with DEP Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette and Governor Phil Murphy to ensure these federal funds will reach the intended communities and support upgrading our water infrastructure, especially in North Jersey. These resources will be put to good use to make our communities more resilient, bolster the Biden Boom. This environmental investment is incredible news for New Jersey and for our nation.”
“The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is bringing federal dollars back to New Jersey and putting them directly to work in our communities,” said 11th District U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill. “Critical water infrastructure concerns around flooding, harmful algal bloom remediation, clean drinking water and PFAS are top of mind for local officials in my district, and I appreciate that the NJDEP and the Governor have visited our communities with me to hear these concerns as well and are continuing this stakeholder engagement with the process outlined today. I look forward to offering any support I can to the development of the Water Infrastructure Investment Plan being launched today to ensure we translate this law into real, tangible change for New Jersey families, which will go an incredibly long way in ensuring that our region is safer and more resilient for decades to come.”
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill is a big win for New Jersey, and I am proud to have played a key role in helping shape and pass this once-in-a-generation legislation. This investment will directly make progress on the concerns that I regularly hear from parents — that they are concerned about lead and other forever chemicals in their children’s drinking water. We cannot afford to take these risks with our children and students — the stakes are simply too high,” said 5th District U.S. Rep Josh Gottheimer. “Now, thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, we will finally have the critical resources we need to help ensure that we have clean drinking water all across our state.”
“I’m proud to have worked on and passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that is now funding these vital clean water projects that will bring relief to families across New Jersey, said 3rd District U.S. Rep. Andy Kim. “My family and my neighbors know the challenge of being unable to trust the safety of the water coming out of the faucet. From lead pipe replacement to eliminating PFAS chemicals from our drinking water, I'm thrilled to see these funding opportunities coming together quickly. Not only will the projects create good paying local jobs, but they will secure our state’s water infrastructure, so families know the water coming into their home is safe.”
“My community’s way of life depends on efficient and effective water infrastructure,” said 2nd District U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew. “It is time for New Jersey and the United States to invest in critical infrastructure like water treatment and stormwater management systems. I will do everything I can to make sure we strengthen South Jersey through these investments.”
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is the single largest investment in our nation’s water infrastructure ever, providing New Jersey with $169 million this year for drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater infrastructure improvement projects. This is the first of five years of investment through the law.
Further supported by corollary state investments, these funds will spur construction of projects that better protect drinking water supplies, ensure the delivery of clean drinking water to all New Jersey communities, and reduce the risk of exposure to lead and synthetic chemicals that can impact the safety of our drinking water. The funding will also improve our communities’ resilience in the face of increasing precipitation, extreme weather, and flooding by right-sizing stormwater infrastructure. The funding will also improve the quality of New Jersey’s lakes, rivers, and streams through upgrades to wastewater infrastructure, including long-deferred improvements to combined sewer overflow systems, the pollution from which disproportionately impacts underserved communities.”
This funding will support federal and state priorities to help communities replace lead-containing water service lines, reduce pollution of waterways from combined sewer systems, harden critical infrastructure to climate change, adapt and modernize stormwater management systems to a changing climate, improve wastewater treatment plants and their collection systems, and help public water suppliers to install treatment systems to address threats from emerging contaminants such as per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
“This year’s budget included record investments in our communities, few of which will have a more profound impact on the people of this state and the places they call home,” said State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio. “Treasury stands ready to work with DEP to facilitate the funding needed to help our partners in local government deliver clean, safe drinking water, bolster our stormwater infrastructure, and improve our resiliency in the face of ever-increasing storm severity.”
“The quality of one’s water should never be a consequence of their location, vocation, or pigmentation. At a time where there is such division on our direction in terms of voting rights, police reform, student loan debt cancellation, and more, it’s refreshing that water can be a conduit for a consensus, said NJSC NAACP Environmental & Climate Justice Chairman Marcus Sibley. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is declaration that water, free of lead and pfas is a right, and an acknowledgement that until now far too many Americans have been wronged. This is a tremendous step towards us truly becoming a great country, for all.”
“Everyone – regardless of their income level or socioeconomic status – deserves the right to have access to clean drinking water,” said 7th Legislative District Senator Troy Singleton. “That is why over the past several years, I have worked tirelessly with my legislative colleagues and the Governor to promote environmental justice and upgrade, modernize and safeguard New Jersey’s water infrastructure. It is our hope that through the adoption of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, New Jersey will make significant investments in our state's water infrastructure so every one of our residents will have access to safe drinking water.”
“For far too long, we have seen a critical need for investment in water infrastructure across the country,” said State Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz. “When considering the importance of collaborative planning and essential investment, it’s worth amplifying the example that our state set through supportive efforts on every level to aid Newark’s robust lead replacement line program. I applaud federal leadership for delivering on an over $50 billion investment for a nationwide overhaul of outdated and deteriorating service lines.”
“It’s no secret that New Jersey’s water infrastructure is outdated,” said 14th Legislative District State Senator Linda R. Greenstein. “We’ve taken great strides in the last few years to invest in our drinking and storm water infrastructure, reduce exposure to lead and other pollutants, and protect the many bodies of water in this coastal state. But this cannot be done without a strong partnership between the federal government, the State, and the local communities impacted most. With the help of the Water Infrastructure Investment Plan, we will be able to replace lead service lines throughout the state, invest in the longevity of our water infrastructure, and ensure that drinking water will be safe for all New Jerseyans for decades to come.”
“Clean water is an essential right for every New Jerseyan. From replacing lead service lines to restoring our coastal estuaries, the BIL will make the most significant investment in water infrastructure in American history,” said 18th Legislative District Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak. “Our communities must be made safer and healthier by eliminating hazards like PFAs and controlling stormwater runoff. We are in a great position to leverage BIL funds through the NJ Infrastructure Bank, an essential component of the Water Infrastructure Investment Plan.”
The DEP is kicking off the WIIP development effort with a series of stakeholder sessions beginning Jan. 24 that will gather input from interested parties on the broad goals of WIIP. The sessions will help the DEP develop criteria for prioritizing drinking water and clean water infrastructure projects to be funded through an initial investment of $169 million provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The process will culminate in the adoption of a WIIP for State Fiscal Year 2023/Federal Fiscal Year 2022.
For a series of introductory videos and other information, visit www.nj.gov/dep/wiip
The trillion-dollar Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, known more commonly as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, was signed by President Biden on Nov. 15. This sweeping legislation provides federal funds to rebuild America’s roads, bridges, railroads, and water infrastructure while advancing environmental justice and tackling climate change – core principals of the Murphy Administration.
The DEP and the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank (I-Bank) work closely on innovative funding programs that provide low-interest but high-impact options for local communities and utilities to meet their drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater infrastructure needs. In Governor Murphy’s first term, the DEP/I-Bank program facilitated more than $2 billion in water infrastructure projects. This highly successful effort has made more than $7.6 billion in investments possible since 1987, saving ratepayers $2.76 billion in financing costs.
“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for communities to invest in the health and economic well-being of their constituents for years to come,” said David Zimmer, Executive Director of the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank. “With the influx of federal funds into the DEP over the next five years combined with what are still historically low interest rates, there has never been a better time for stakeholders to get engaged, to provide feedback on the State’s plans for these funds, and to participate in the DEP/I-Bank Financing Program. We look forward to working with our partners at the DEP to facilitate these informative WIIP sessions.”
“While a meaningful increase in low-cost financing for water infrastructure projects across New Jersey will be available shortly, strategic investment of new and existing funds is necessary given the overwhelming needs our communities have,” said Dan Kennedy, Senior Director for Environmental and Utility Operations with the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association. “New Jersey’s State Revolving Funds have evolved into a national model for success and are built to efficiently deliver from an administrative perspective. That said, DEP is rightly opening opportunities for the public to provide input on priorities so that this generational investment opportunity in clean water construction is targeted to projects and places that need it the most. I encourage all that have a stake in seeing our water infrastructure assets upgraded to meet the needs of the future to engage through these upcoming meetings and other public comment opportunities with clear, actionable input for DEP to consider.”
“This new funding has the potential to help every community turn the corner on intractable obstacles to affordable, safe drinking water, flood protection, and clean waterways,” said New Jersey Future Managing Director of Water and Policy Chris Sturm. “We urge all water stakeholders to get involved with the DEP’s Water Infrastructure Investment Plan and offer practical solutions to leverage funds, lower costs, and prioritize environmental justice. Ensuring clean water for all New Jerseyans is everyone’s responsibility, and we all have a stake in a healthier future.”
For 2022—the first of five allotments through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – New Jersey will receive:
During the forthcoming engagement sessions, attendees will have the opportunity to share their water infrastructure needs and challenges and shape WIIP, criteria including project priority rankings, affordability criteria, funding packages, and project types that qualify for principal forgiveness. The sessions will also include discussions on the allocation of principal forgiveness and funding packages to address lead, PFAS, climate change, and sea-level rise.
The session schedule is as follows:
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