Signs legislation authorizing $200 million bonds for repair of New Jersey’s dams, flood control proj
“Last week’s blackout illustrated all too clearly the importance of maintaining and repairing our state’s vital infrastructure,” Governor McGreevey said. “As Benjamin Franklin noted, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’ and New Jersey must fund repairs of our dams now to prevent costly catastrophic breaches in the future.”
Standing in Borig Park, which, along with downtown Lodi, was completely submerged during Hurricane Floyd, the Governor was joined at today’s bill signing by Senators Joseph Coniglio and Paul Sarlo, as well as by local business and community leaders.
"Protecting the residents of northern New Jersey from the ravages of flash-floods has been one of my top priorities since being elected to office," said Senator Joseph Coniglio, D-Bergen. "We’ve been asking the State to do something about our flooding problem for years, yet our repeated requests have been largely ignored until now. I am pleased Governor McGreevey has seen the necessity of North Jerseys plight."
"This money gives us the ability to finally do something about the chronic flooding of the Saddle River Basin," said Senator Paul A. Sarlo, D-Bergen, Essex and Passaic. "Weve been waiting for Saddle River flood control for a long time. With proper planning and implementation, we can save the residents of Northern New Jersey millions of dollars in flood damages."
Under the terms of the legislation, the DEP would be authorized to spend $15 million from the bond funding directly on restoration and repair of state-owned dams. Additionally, the DEP would be able to issue up to $95 million in loans and grants for the restoration of private and municipal dams that pose threats to public safety.
In New Jersey, dam owners are responsible for the safety and security of their structures, under the oversight of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The legislation signed by the Governor creates a comprehensive mechanism for funding dam restoration, rectifying the significant public safety hazard created by dam owners’ maintenance lapses due to a lack of resources.
There are 185 high hazard dams in New Jersey, 47 of which the state has determined are in need of repairs to address specific deficiencies. The state estimates that these dams require at least $33 million in repairs. In addition, there are 314 significant hazard dams that are in need of some level of repairs.
New Jersey places dams into categories based on potential for property damage and/or loss of life should the dam fail. The categories include:
Another priority of the bill is to help communities potential flooding problems, through $25 million in financing for state flood control projects for communities and businesses lying in or near flood plains. A primary focus of the flood control funding will be the lower Saddle River system, which tragically led to the loss of several lives and caused extensive flood damage during Hurricane Floyd in September 1999.
“New Jersey’s residents should not have to face the destruction of their homes and businesses due to flooding,” added McGreevey. “While we cannot prevent Mother Nature from unpredictable outbursts and storms, we can and must help our communities do everything possible to control and mitigate flood waters.”
The bill also provides $15 million for loans and grants for much needed efforts to improve the water quality and health of New Jersey’s lakes and streams through dredging and restoration projects, as well as stream cleaning initiatives.
“New Jersey’s water is truly the lifeblood of our communities – essential to economic development and to safe, livable communities for our families,” said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. “We are fortunate that Governor McGreevey continues to make protection and cleanup of our waterways one of the top priorities of his Administration.”
In addition to the focus on dams and flood control, today’s legislation also provides $50 million in bonds for the DEP and the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust (EIT) to issue loans financing wastewater treatment and water resource projects. These projects may include infrastructure improvements such as sewage treatment projects to reduce pollutant impacts from sewerage discharge and construction of water supply interconnections and transfers to help reduce shortages during future droughts.
With the Governor’s signature of S2182, the decision on whether to authorize the $200 million in bonds will appear as a statewide referendum on the November ballot.
Posted by: Staff at rt23.com
August 25, 2003
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