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Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority to Make Significant Improvements to Jersey City’s Municipal Sewage and Drinking Water Systems Benefiting Underserved Communities Under Agreement With United States Government | GRANDPA

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The Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced an agreement with the Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority (JCMUA) in Jersey City, New Jersey, that will significantly improve the city’s municipal wastewater and drinking water systems and significantly reduce the amount of pollution , which is discharged into the Hackensack River, Hudson River and Newark Bay, and will benefit many Jersey City neighborhoods facing environmental justice challenges. The agreement is a modification of a consent decree that JCMUA entered into with the US government in 2011.

“This settlement will help improve the environment and public health of communities that have long endured a historic and disproportionate exposure to pollution,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Division of Environment and Natural Resources. “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the public’s right to clean and healthy water under our nation’s Clean Water Act.”

“Providing clean water to communities, especially those already overburdened by pollution, is a fundamental right that everyone deserves,” said Acting Deputy Administrator Larry Starfield of the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance. “The improvements agreed upon in this settlement will allow Jersey City’s municipal utility agency to effectively manage the challenges associated with severe storms and hurricanes caused by climate change.”

“As a result of this settlement, the sewage system improvements will reduce combined sewer overflow discharges by 370 million gallons per year and prevent over a million pounds of contaminants from entering nearby waterways each year,” Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia said for the EPA. “Additionally, it will expedite the replacement of thousands of lead utility lines, meaning cleaner drinking water for vulnerable communities. EPA renews its commitment to protecting underserved and overburdened communities like Jersey City. These and other environmental and health benefits are key to protecting public health.”

“Through our state partnership, NJDEP and USEPA are working to ensure all New Jersey communities enjoy the benefits of clean waterways and reliable, safe drinking water,” said Shawn M. LaTourette, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. “This Consent Order helps ensure that JCMUA will continue to take important actions to reduce the risks of water pollution now and in the future, and we applaud JCMUA’s commitment to replacing leading umbilicals as the utility works to achieve broader compliance of the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Act requirements of the Water Resources Act”.

Under today’s agreement, JCMUA is committed to repairing and upgrading significant portions of its municipal combined sewer system while expanding the capacity of the system. JCMUA will also upgrade the city’s drinking water system by replacing over 12,000 lead drinking water lines. Many of the areas that will benefit from these upgrades are communities of color that have faced environmental justice challenges for decades. JCMUA will also incorporate best practices and design measures for climate change adaptation and resilience into its channel upgrades to ensure its channel systems are better prepared to withstand severe storms and hurricanes.

JCMUA estimates that the work described in the consent decree amendments will take an additional 10 years and cost approximately $1.099 billion.

As part of the first settlement in 2011, JCMUA committed to resolving Clean Water Act violations because the combined sewage system was improperly operated and maintained, resulting in repeated discharges of untreated wastewater into the Hackensack River, the Hudson River, the Newark Bay and Penhorn Creek. This agreement also included a commitment for JCMUA to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the condition of its wastewater system. This assessment identified additional improvements that needed to be made to ensure the sewage system was operating in compliance with the Clean Water Act. These additional improvements are addressed in this comparison.

While the city’s drinking water system is subject to the regulations of the Safe Drinking Water Act and was not covered by the regulation of the Clean Water Act 2011, as part of the change, JCMUA chose to modernize both its wastewater and drinking water systems at the same time to save time save and costs. The identification, removal and replacement of lead-contaminated drinking water supply lines is important in communities like Jersey City to protect public health, particularly the health of children, since children are more vulnerable to the effects of lead than adults.

Combined sewerage systems like the one in Jersey City are designed to transport sewage, industrial effluent, and stormwater to treatment plants in the same pipes. During heavy rainfall, the volume of wastewater flowing through a combined sewer system can exceed the capacity of the system or treatment plant. The resulting overflows, known as combined sewer overflows (CSOs), contain not only stormwater but also pollutants such as untreated human and industrial waste, toxic materials and debris. They pose risks to human health, threaten aquatic habitats and life, and interfere with the use and enjoyment of the country’s waterways.

The amendment to the consent decree is subject to a 60-day public comment period and final court approval. A copy of the amendment and more information is available on the Department of Justice’s website at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html. View the Spanish translation of this press release here.

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