NEW JERSEY – U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Thursday joined with local leaders and water providers to announce a Clean Water Action Plan, focused on helping towns across the Fifth District claw back federal resources to remove dangerous lead and forever chemicals from our children and families’ drinking water, and to meet all state and federal water standards.
The plan builds on the progress Gottheimer has led over recent years for greater transparency and investment to address dangerous lead water in North Jersey schools.
According to public reporting New Jersey has 350,000 lead service lines, which are lead pipes that connect a water main from the curb to premises like a home or school. According to 2019 data, approximately 480 school buildings across a third of New Jersey’s school districts recorded lead levels that exceeded 15 parts per billion. The EPA estimates that at least 20% of human lead exposure is from drinking water. PFAS, known as forever chemicals, in drinking water has been an issue for towns across the Fifth District and has been linked to numerous adverse health effects, including cancers and impaired child development.
Gottheimer’s new Clean Water Action Plan includes the following:
- Clawing Back Federal Dollars to North Jersey for Clean Water Projects: Gottheimer successfully clawed back a $2.8 million federal investment for Ridgewood Water to improve their water treatment facility and address elevated levels of lead and forever chemicals in the water supply. Ridgewood Water serves more than 62,000 residents across Ridgewood, Wyckoff, Midland Park, and Glen Rock. Gottheimer is working to secure new federal investment for water treatment projects in Mahwah, Fair Lawn, and Park Ridge. Gottheimer also helped secure $1 billion for Jersey’s critical water infrastructure through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which he helped craft and pass. These investments will help lower the local tax burden on our residents.
- Ensuring Transparency in Schools: Working with parents, state legislators, and the Governor, from 2017 to 2019, Gottheimer called to create a centralized, easy-to-access school lead water reporting database for the State of New Jersey. In 2019, the database website was unveiled, allowing for parents and communities to access up-to-date information on dangerous lead water in their children’s schools. Furthermore, a key piece of Gottheimer’s bipartisan Lead-Free Schools Act was enacted into law via the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, creating a targeted pilot program using existing resources to improve drinking water infrastructure in schools nationwide with lead in their water.
- Replacing Lead Service Lines: Last year, a North Jersey private water provider, Suez Water, announced that 7,800 lead lines had been removed and that lead levels across the system were at historic lows. Suez committed to having no lead in their system in 10 years. Today, Gottheimer called on every single provider, private and public, to remove lead from all service lines going to houses. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which he helped shape and pass, provides investment to water utilities and municipal water systems to begin removing lead service lines.
“For years now, it’s my top priority to get clean drinking water for our children and families and I’ve been fighting in Congress to claw more tax dollars back to Jersey. A critical $2.8 million federal investment has now been signed into law for Ridgewood Water to address lead in the water, PFAS, and other forever chemicals impacting more than 62,000 residents across Ridgewood, Wyckoff, Midland Park, and Glen Rock,” Gottheimer said. “With bipartisan legislation I just helped pass and get signed into law, and the $1 billion for water infrastructure I helped secure for Jersey through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, we’re helping get lead and forever chemicals out of our drinking water. I’m also working with other towns across the Fifth District, including Park Ridge, Mahwah, and Fair Lawn, to replicate this success and claw back even more of our own tax dollars to help improve their water treatment facilities. The more of our federal tax dollars that we get back to Northern New Jersey, the less our towns have to charge in local taxes — and I’m all about lowering taxes.”
Gottheimer was joined by Ridgewood Mayor Susan Knudsen, Park Ridge Mayor Keith Misciagna, Mahwah Mayor Jim Wysocki, Bergen County Commissioner Tom Sullivan, Fair Lawn Councilwoman Gail Rottenstritch, Midland Park Council President Nancy Peet, Ridgewood Water Director Rich Calbi, and the Park Ridge Administration and Water Utility.