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Shared Investment in Urban Water Systems Will Lead to Clean Rivers, More Vibrant Communities

August 25th, 2014 by

By Chris Daggett and Margaret Waldock

Chris Daggett is the president and chief executive officer of The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; Margaret Waldock is the foundation’s environment program director.

Cross-posted from The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread’s Inspiring Solutions series on urban water infrastructure

Chris Daggett

Chris Daggett

Stormwater can be our savior if we view New Jersey’s water infrastructure crisis as an opportunity to create the kinds of communities we want to live in — healthy, resilient, walkable places with tree-lined streets, green buildings, clean rivers and vibrant waterfronts.

Twenty-one urban communities in New Jersey are facing a daunting challenge — a need to upgrade century-old, combined sewer systems, where sewer and stormwater lines are connected. When it rains, sometimes as little as one-half inch, the sewage treatment plants reach capacity, causing polluted water to bypass treatment plants, flow directly into waterways and, in the worst cases, flood neighborhood streets.

Margaret Waldock

Margaret Waldock

The result is a risk to public health, urban waters, and the prospect of stymied economic investment and revitalization. We need to act, but these communities cannot shoulder this burden alone while they are juggling many other equally urgent issues, such as creating jobs, reducing crime and strengthening public education.

Federal and state regulations require that cities must control these combined sewer overflows. By year’s end, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will issue final permits for the cities with these systems, requiring development and implementation of long-term control plans.


Read the full article on The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread’s website.

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