Lead contamination of the drinking water in some schools has raised concerns about New Jersey’s aging water infrastructure.
State lawmakers are considering forming a task force to study what improvements the water system needs.
That would be extremely valuable to ensure water quality over the long term, said Dennis Hart of the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association.
“It’s been my experience in 35 years that the state of New Jersey has a history when it comes to water resource-related uses to focus on the crisis on hand and then forget about the crisis the minute that it has passed and move on to something else,” Hart said.
About 25 percent of the water in urban areas leaks out of old pipes, said New Jersey Sierra club director Jeff Tittel. That can reduce the flow from taps if there’s not enough water in reservoirs in the summertime to make up for it.
Replacing all the old pipes would cost billions, said Tittel, adding that’s something the task force will need to consider.
Assemblyman John McKeon said there are several possible funding sources.
“In part it will be ratepayer. The private utilities are going to have to step up to the plate as controlled by the BPU so it’s not onerous,” he said Friday. “We have already an Environmental Infrastructure Trust. We’re better than most states as far as having some source of revenue. We need to look at that trust and see if it needs to be more deeply collateralized.”