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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 28, 2003

Contact: Elaine Makatura (609) 292-2994
Peter Boger (609) 984-1795

 

DEP JOINS SENATOR SWEENEY TO PROMOTE PUBLIC SAFETY AND
WATER RESOURCE PROTECTION
Ballot Question Provides Loan Funding for Flood Control and Dam Repairs

(03/160) GREENWICH - New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell, Senator Stephen M. Sweeney and Assemblymen John Burzichelli and Douglas Fisher today announced that the Repaupo Tide Gate Levee qualifies for funding from proposed new dam repair and flood control bonding. If voters approve Ballot Question No. 3 on the November 4 referendum, the levee will be eligible for funding under the "Dam, Lake, Stream, Flood Control, Water Resources, and Wastewater Treatment Project Bond Act of 2003."

"Government has no obligation more fundamental than the safety and well-being of our citizens," said Commissioner Campbell. "New Jersey must fund repairs of our dams and other flood control projects now to prevent costly and catastrophic disasters in the future. In November, citizens will have an opportunity to vote for an ounce of prevention now through Ballot Question No. 3 rather than a pound of cure later."

In August, Governor James E. McGreevey signed legislation authorizing a ballot referendum for $150 million in bonds to help repair dams that pose threats to public safety as well as to promote dredging, stream restoration, and flood control projects. The bill, S2182, also proposes an additional $50 million in bonds for state-authorized loans financing wastewater treatment and water resource projects that would provide vital improvements to water quality. Senator Sweeney co-sponsored the bill, which passed the Legislature unanimously.

"I urge the voters in the 3rd District and statewide to support Ballot Questions 1, 2 and 3," said Senator Stephen M. Sweeney. "There are many projects in our district that would finally be eligible for funding under Ballot Question #3 that otherwise have not been eligible for funding."

Sweeney said that in addition to the Repaupo Tide Gate Levee, other dams in the 3rd District would be eligible for funding if voters approve the referendum.

The Townships of Logan and Greenwich have been trying unsuccessfully for five years to gain federal funding through the U.S. Army Corps or other agencies. This funding is needed for repairs to the Repaupo Tide Gate Levee and sluice gates. A failure of the levee would not only impact Logan and Greenwich, but also the adjoining municipalities of Paulsboro, Mantua, Harrison and Woolwich.

"The ramifications of failing to fund the repairs of these projects in our district could be devastating," said

Assemblyman Burzichelli. "Every storm warning, hurricane and high tide is a threat to this tide gate levee and our sluice gates. There have been patchwork remedies to keep this from failing, but it is time for large scale repairs and the funding could come from the passage of Ballot Question #3."

Assemblyman Doug Fisher said that educating the voters on the ballot questions was essential to their passage. "We are here today because we co-sponsored Ballot Question #3 in the Legislature because it is so vitally important to our district," he added. "We are also here today because we want the public to be aware and informed about the ballot questions they will see at the polls in a week."

One of the Bond Act's top priorities is to help communities address potential flooding problems, through $25 million in financing for state flood control projects for communities and businesses lying in or near flood plains.

If voters approve the Bond Act through Ballot Question No. 3, DEP would also be authorized to spend $15 million from the bond funding directly on restoration and repair of state-owned dams. Additionally, the DEP would be able to issue up to $95 million in loans for the restoration of private and municipal dams that pose threats to public safety. Lake associations and private dam owners seeking loans must apply as a co-borrower with a county or municipality to ensure that the projects are necessary for public safety.

In New Jersey, the Safe Dam Act makes dam owners responsible for the safety and security of their structures, under the oversight of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). This Bond Act creates a comprehensive mechanism for funding dam restoration, rectifying the significant public safety hazard created by dam owners' maintenance lapses due to a lack of resources.

There are 185 high hazard dams in New Jersey, 47 of which the state has determined are in need of repairs to address specific deficiencies. The state estimates that these dams require at least $33 million in repairs. In addition, there are 314 significant hazard dams that are in need of some level of repairs.

The Bond Act also provides $15 million for loans and grants for much needed efforts to improve the water quality and health of New Jersey's lakes and streams through dredging and restoration projects, as well as stream cleaning initiatives.

In addition to the focus on dams and flood control, the Bond Act also provides $50 million in bonds for the DEP and the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust (EIT) to issue loans to finance wastewater treatment and water resource projects. These projects may include infrastructure improvements such as sewage treatment projects to reduce pollutant impacts from sewerage discharge and construction of water supply interconnections and transfers to help reduce shortages during future droughts.

 

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