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Greatest Danger Facing NJ’s Water Infrastructure: The Unknown

Monday, April 4, 2016   (0 Comments)
Share | 4/4/2016

Lead in water in public schools. Potentially harmful contaminants found in drinking water, without suitable standards to act on. An aging infrastructure leaking water before it ever gets to consumers. There is no shortage of issues facing policy makers charged with overseeing proper management of New Jersey’s drinking water, but in this age of information, maybe the biggest concerns have to do with what we do not know, according to a panel at a NJ Spotlight roundtable on “New Jersey’s Hidden Water Crisis.” “I would suggest if there is a crisis in our water infrastructure, the crisis is in our lack of knowledge,” said Daniel Van Abs, an associate professor at the Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. “We lack consensus standards on how good or bad our systems are.” Ironically, Van Abs, and Daniel Kennedy, an assistant commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, agreed that many larger systems do have a good inventory of their infrastructure, including how many miles of pipe they have underground and their status. But most of that information is not shared with the state. “There clearly are smaller water and wastewater systems that are facing significant challenges and issues,” conceded Kennedy, who said they need sufficient investment to overcome those challenges. The state tries to address that need by handing out low-interest loans totaling $200 million to $500 million a year. Too often, those challenges and the current state of the water infrastructure in New Jersey is not fairly portrayed. For the most part, the integrity of the state’s water infrastructure has been assumed based on meeting the few standards dealing with the status of those systems now in place.

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