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Governor Chris Christie signed legislation on Friday authorizing $31.5 million in state financing to raise New Jersey American Water’s largest water treatment plant’s existing floodwall to withstand even a “500-year” flood. The plant serves more than a million people in seven counties; provides water to five large public water systems; and serves as an emergency source of water for the cities of Newark and Trenton. Irene’s flood waters came within an inch of breaching the plant’s flood wall, which could have resulted in an estimated regional economic loss of more than $1.8 billion.
The funding is part of the $1.28 billion bill that is aimed at financing for much-needed improvements to drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects across the state.
In signing the legislation, Gov. Christie said, “There can be no compromises in protecting the viability, integrity and resiliency of the state’s water-supply and wastewater systems, especially in areas that are vulnerable to floods.”
“Hurricanes Irene and Sandy both challenged the resiliency of regional water systems,” said William M. Varley, President of New Jersey American Water. “Raising the floodwall at our Raritan Millstone Water Treatment Plant by four feet is a multi-million dollar undertaking, and we are grateful for the assistance of both the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.”
The legislation provides New Jersey American Water, among others, with a low-cost loan from the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust (NJEIT), an independent state financing agency, in partnership with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
“We are proud to be playing a major part in the recovery of New Jersey from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy,” said NJEIT Executive Director David Zimmer. “All of these projects, whether directly Sandy-related or not, are critically important to our local communities and will provide thousands of construction jobs in our state.”