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How New Jersey’s billion-dollar water infrastructure investment plan could impact Warren, Hunterdon counties | Regional

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PHILLIPSBURG, NJ – New Jersey is working on a billion-dollar water plan funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law. It aims to ensure safe drinking water, less flooding, and better-quality waterways.

New Jersey has old water infrastructure and new problems.

“The PFAS chemicals forever that are showing up in water systems across the state,” said New Jersey Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette.

But LaTourette is hopeful, thanks to the Water Infrastructure Investment Plan, or WIIP.

“We like to say that we’re WIIP-ing New Jersey’s infrastructure into shape,” said LaTourette.

Every week, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has been getting feedback from communities.

The state announced $1 billion in federal funds will go toward infrastructure over the next five years. It’ll impact the water people drink, the water people flush, and the water that falls.

Hunterdon County communities that had creeks and streams wiped out by Ida are a huge focus; Rainwater needs somewhere to go to avoid more flooding.

In Warren County, water systems tend to be older and isolated.

“You’re at a much higher elevation,” said Mark McDonough, the president of the New Jersey American Water Company. “They can be very challenging to run in terms of the hydraulics of the water.”

While experts say different parts of the state have different needs, this $1 billion is really just a drop in the bucket.

“We estimate that New Jersey has a total water infrastructure need far exceeding $30 billion,” said LaTourette.

Over time, the state is investing billions too.

Plus, “private water companies such as American Water, really try and fill a big part of the rest of the gap,” said McDonough. “There’s always emerging contaminants and new challenges that come.”

The DEP wants to keep hearing from people about their needs and in March, will put together a proposal to spend the money.

It’ll go to the legislature, and the goal is to have the plan in place by July.

“We’re going to create jobs while we protect public health,” said LaTourette.

Municipalities can apply for funding and residents can share comments on the Department of Environmental Protection’s website.

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