Water Quality Month: Making Sure that Every Sip Is A Safe One

Be sure to hydrate.

During the summer months, especially with our recent heat wave, it’s not hard to feel the need for water that is plentiful, free and safe to drink...

Water is so essential to human life and so abundant that we easily take it for granted. And beyond the obvious suggestion of staying hydrated, we must raise an even more fundamental question: Is the water you’re drinking safe?

August is Water Quality Month, and I thought it was an appropriate time to remind my bosses that I have made it a top legislative priority to ensure that all of our citizens have water that is both available and safe to drink. You shouldn’t have to go the water cooler or fill a glass from the water tap and wonder, is this safe?

Many think this is an issue that only affects our nation’s larger, urban cities. Yet, according to U.S. EPA data, more than 1.5 million New Jerseyans are served by a water utility that has been cited for excessive contaminants since 2014. Sadly, it is an issue that affects all of us – from our cities to our smaller communities – even here in Burlington County where some of our towns have been directly affected by elevated contaminants in the water supply. In these instances, I have urged the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to use all available resources to ensure that the water our residents are drinking is safe.

Additionally, my legislative efforts to ensure that all New Jerseyans have access to safe drinking water include: 

  • Setting Standards. Setting standards for 1,2,3-trichlopropane (TCP). Senate Bill No. 74 would require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to establish a maximum level for these contaminants. We generally find TCP at industrial or hazardous waste sites, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Experts have identified TCP as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” Unfortunately, there are no federal or state standards. My bill would require the Department of Environmental Protection to adopt a stringent standard, basing its recommendations from the Drinking Water Quality Institute.
  • Water Infrastructure Grant. This grant would encourage interested parties to develop and promote an innovative drinking water supply and infrastructure projects that improve the quality and functioning of New Jersey’s publicly owned drinking water supply and wastewater systems. Senate Bill No. 1888, also known as the “Clean Water Innovation Challenge Act,” would encourage our best minds and innovative technologies to form a public-private partnership designed to help solve one of the most important problems facing New Jersey: the decay of its critical infrastructure that provides drinking water and treats waste for the health and welfare of all New Jerseyans.
  • Safe Drinking Water in Our Schools. I struggle to think of a more responsible oversight than that which ensures our children have safe drinking water at school. Senate Bill No. 3437 requires institutions of higher learning to test drinking water for lead periodically. The laboratory testing must be certified and follow protocols issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Environmental Protection. Finally, in the interest of transparency, each institution would post the results on its website, including any plan that might be necessary to remediate a drinking water outlet that has elevated lead levels.
  • Improved Water Standards. I have already alluded to the lack of certain water standards. Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 156 strongly urges the DEP to adopt standards for certain drinking water contaminants as recommended by the NJ Drinking Water Quality Institute. We have made strides in promoting safe drinking water. In 1983, an amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act created the Institute, a panel of experts responsible for developing standards for safe drinking water. We believe new and more rigorous standards are necessary for 16 contaminants. This resolution would bind the DEP to implement these news standards formulated by the Institute. 

The next time you take a sip of water or fill your water bottle, I want you to know that other like-minded legislators and I hope to ensure that you find it accessible and, above all, safe.

That’s my take, what’s yours?


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