U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09) and U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today outlined legislation they have introduced in both Houses of Congress to address New Jersey’s and the nation’s aging water infrastructure, while creating jobs and economic opportunity.
"While you don’t see it aging in front of you on a daily basis like the Pulaski Skyway, you only need to open any local paper in the summer to find a story about a burst water main," said Rep. Pascrell. "Our common sense solution not only invests in our nation's aging infrastructure, but it creates good paying construction jobs that are literally beneath our feet in a way that costs the taxpayers very little. It's a win for our infrastructure, our environment and our economy."
The Sustainable Water Infrastructure Act would stimulate private-sector investment to fund these critical repairs by modifying the federal tax code to remove caps on the issuances of government private activity bonds (PAB ) for water and wastewater projects. Currently, annual volume cap exemptions exist for PAB financing of airports, seaports and certain inter-city rail projects.
“It seems like every week a pipe bursts somewhere in New Jersey, destroying property and disrupting lives,” said Sen. Menendez. “We’ve under-invested in our infrastructure, certainly we’ve underinvested in water systems, and now we’re paying the price. These systems are old and badly degraded. Many of them are waiting to fail, and they need to be fixed.”
Communities across the nation face major challenges over the next 20 years to replace their nearly century-old water and wastewater infrastructure, but due to mounting state and local government budget deficits, capital investment for such projects will be difficult.
“In the United States, a water main breaks every two minutes. The nation’s water infrastructure, especially the pipes underneath the ground we walk on, is aging and is in need of significant investment,” said United Water Executive Vice President Robert Iacullo. “We at United Water know that cities across New Jersey—and across our nation—need high levels of investment for water infrastructure. That is why we support the swift passage of this legislation by Congress.
Rep. Pascrell and Sen. Menendez today visited a construction site on Lafayette Ave. in Cliffside Park, where crews from United Water were replacing a broken underground valve leading to a 24-inch water main that feeds the surrounding neighborhood. According to United Water, it is investing $220 million over the next three years to upgrade its network in North Jersey. The company maintains PABs would significantly reduce the cost of infrastructure projects, allowing it to pass savings on to its customers.
On Friday, the pavement opened up outside the New Jersey Performing Arts Center when a water main burst in Downtown Newark, creating a giant sink hole. In recent weeks, water mains have broken in Passaic and Jersey City disrupting service to customers and inconveniencing residents.