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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 6, 2005

Contact: Karen Hershey
(609) 984-1795

DEP BUILDS ON ACTIONS TO PROTECT NEW JERSEY'S WATER SUPPLIES

Department Takes Steps to Avoid Water Supply Emergencies

(05/02) TRENTON -- To protect New Jersey's water supplies from future droughts or security threats, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced today that DEP is undertaking an 18-month project to evaluate water supply infrastructure throughout the state. The study will investigate ways to mitigate and avoid drought emergencies and address what measures are needed to prevent a catastrophic loss of water due to natural disasters or terrorism.

"DEP is taking all necessary steps to provide an adequate water supply to New Jersey citizens in the event of a major loss of infrastructure," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "In light of recent domestic security concerns, this study is an important component of our overall strategy to protect New Jersey's critical water resources in emergency situations."

DEP has awarded an $850,000 contract to a consulting engineering company to conduct the study, which is expected to be completed by April 2006. The evaluation will include all public community water systems serving a population of at least 10,000 people. Ninety percent of New Jersey's population is served by these water systems.

"Rather than manage our water resources from emergency to emergency, we need to make sure that when the next drought occurs, we have safeguards in place so that we can minimize the need for measures that adversely affect businesses and communities," said Commissioner Campbell. "This study will help us do just that."

In the summer of 2002, New Jersey suffered a severe record-breaking drought resulting in mandatory water restrictions. Despite a rainy summer and fall, experts predict that another drought is likely to occur in the future.

The infrastructure study will examine existing major water transmission routes and interconnections assessing how these separate systems can be integrated and operated as a statewide system to best manage and distribute resources during an emergency situation. A hydraulic model will also be developed to assist DEP in evaluating a variety of "what if" scenarios to ensure an adequate water supply is available in the event of an emergency.

The study will provide important information about what measures are necessary, including operational changes and infrastructure improvements to avert a future water supply emergency in the event of a drought or catastrophic event.

DEP is taking additional interim steps to secure the longevity of New Jersey's water supplies by soliciting proposals for alternative water supply strategy projects from over 400 water purveyors, dischargers and agricultural users throughout the state. DEP is evaluating the proposals submitted and will provide grants using funds secured from the 1981 Water Supply Bond Fund. The proposed projects include using treated wastewater effluent for landscape irrigation and other non-potable uses.

DEP's actions to protect water supply infrastructure is just one element of the Department's overall plan to preserve and protect the state's water supplies. During the past three years, 614 miles of streams and 7,800 acres of reservoirs have been given the highest level of protection, preserving the drinking water for future generations and preventing any measurable deterioration in the existing water quality.

DEP has also adopted new stormwater regulations, which protect water quality and preserve the integrity of drinking water supplies statewide. This past November, DEP adopted the strictest drinking water standard in the country for arsenic and has just released reports assessing the vulnerability of drinking water sources throughout the state. These Source Water Assessment reports are available on the Department's Web site at www.state.nj.us/dep/swap/.

 

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Last Updated: January 6, 2005