Pallone Calls on Governor Chris Christie to Update Statewide Water Supply Plan
Updated Version of Plan was submitted in 2012, but no new plan has been released
Washington, DC - Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), the Ranking Member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a letter to Governor Chris Christie asking that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) revise and update the Statewide Water Supply Plan. Currently, 14 of New Jersey’s 21 counties have a drought warning, increasing the importance of updating the plan.
New Jersey State law requires the plan to be updated at least every five years, and the current Plan has not been updated since 1996. An updated version of the plan was submitted to Governor Christie’s office in 2012, but no new plan has been released.
Congressman Pallone is a leader in Congress to improve our nation’s water infrastructure and to provide safe drinking water. In December Pallone testified before the Joint Legislative Task Force on Drinking Water Infrastructure, a six-member panel directed to draft a report on the state of water resources in New Jersey. Pallone discussed his recent efforts in Congress on the bill which the President signed yesterday to provide funds to improve our nation’s water infrastructure. He worked to secure $750 million in funding for new drinking water programs to monitor for lead in schools, replace lead service lines, support disadvantaged communities, and support research into innovating drinking water technology.
In September Congressman Pallone partnered with other safe drinking water advocates in the House today to introduce the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 2016. The bill would make comprehensive changes to ensure safer drinking water for communities nationwide. The proposal would be the first major update to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in twenty years.
Congressman Pallone’s full letter can be found below:
Governor Chris Christie
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625
Dear Governor Christie:
I write to ask that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) revise and update the Statewide Water Supply Plan. It is my understanding that an updated version of the plan was submitted to your office in 2012 but a new blueprint for water planning in the state has not been issued. Despite recent rainfall, New Jersey is still experiencing drought conditions; the need for an updated water supply plan is greater than ever.
As you know, state law requires that the plan be updated at least every 5 years, but the current Plan has not been updated since 1996 – over 20 years ago. The current plan also does not take into account the National Climate Assessment’s findings that we can expect more extreme droughts in future years due to the effects of climate change. The existing plan also does not take into account population growth, new development trends, or other factors that impact water use.
The challenge of ensuring water resources for our state’s large population is exacerbated by the ongoing drought conditions in New Jersey. Currently, 14 of New Jersey's 21 counties have a drought warning. DEP issues drought warnings when water usage outpaces the rate at which reservoirs and other water resources are replenished. Examples of the drought’s impact can be found in the historic low levels in some of New Jersey’s reservoirs, including Spruce Run and Round Valley. Negative impacts of the drought are likely to continue to increase as we get closer to warmer weather in the spring and summer, as water use levels increase in communities throughout the state.
The lack of a statewide blueprint for utilizing our water supply is hampering efforts to minimize the impact of drought on families and communities, increasing the chances of both economic and environmental damage. Local and regional entities, such as the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), have been working to lessen the negative impacts of the drought on affected communities. DRBC, which includes representatives from four states, including New Jersey, that draw water from the Delaware River, was forced to institute a drought watch and take action to institute drought watch operations in November 2016. On January 19, DRBC lifted its drought designation, in part due to increased rainfall and snowmelt, but the drought warnings issued by DEP still remain in effect. The hard work being done by entities like DRBC should be lauded, but the state should be providing leadership on water issues, not ducking responsibility.
Our New Jersey families and neighbors have seen the crisis unfolding in Flint and are rightly concerned about our state’s ability to ensure clean drinking water. Your Administration should act decisively to ensure that our state has an updated plan for water use purposes. I call on you to do so without any further delay.
Thank you for your consideration of my request.
Frank Pallone, Jr.
Member of Congress