TRENTON, NJ -- To address the growing crisis of aging water infrastructure across the state, Governor Phil Murphy announced a comprehensive statewide plan to address lead exposure due to lead-based paint, lead service lines and plumbing, and contaminated soil on Thursday.
"Our country's deteriorating water infrastructure has sparked a national conversation regarding the best path forward to protect our communities from the dangers of lead exposure," said Governor Murphy. "While modernizing our aging water infrastructure is a critical piece in ensuring access to clean, safe drinking water, we must also work creatively and collaboratively to prevent lead exposure from lead-based paint in homes and contaminated soil in our communities.
:My comprehensive statewide plan brings together experts from our cabinet departments, stakeholders, and advocates to create strong partnerships and implement policies to protect New Jersey's children and families from lead. Together, guided by the actions outlined in our strategy, we will overcome this public health challenge that has been building for decades to ensure that our residents are safe from lead exposure for generations to come," said Murphy.
"It is very clear we need to take action to fix New Jersey's water infrastructure. The presence of lead is a problem in many areas of the state and to protect families and our communities, it has to be comprehensively addressed,” said Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Mercer), who chairs the Telecommunications and Utilities Committee.
Governor Murphy's statewide strategy includes: a proposed $500 million bond to support the replacement of lead service lines and remediation of lead-based paint in homes across New Jersey; allowing water utilities to mitigate the cost of lead service line replacement for homeowners; establishing a publicly available, comprehensive lead testing strategy for housing, schools, and daycare facilities to address necessary disclosures and notifications for residents, as well as enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance with testing, disclosure, notification, remediation, and abatement requirements; updating data on the exact number and locations of homes with lead paint, plumbing, and infrastructure in order to address the full scope of the problem, improving the statewide inventory of lead service lines; and reinstating the Lead-Safe Housing Registry.
Furthermore, the plan will prioritize funding from the Securing Our Children's Future Bond Act to reduce lead exposure in schools; implement early detection and intervention public health strategies to combat lead exposure; include blood lead level testing as a requirement for entry into public child care, preschool, and schools; create a "Lead-Safe" certificate program requiring inspection and disclosure of lead hazards at point of sale and inspection and remediation for all rental homes that were built before 1978; develop a plan to replace all lead service lines across New Jersey within 10 years; create workforce training and career outreach programs to high schools, vocational-technical schools, and community colleges to recruit younger generations into the trades.
Saying that the body will make removing lead contamination a priority Senate President Steve Sweeney added that "There is need for immediate actions but there is also a need for sustained solutions."
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin offered that each of Murphy's proposals "merit consideration" and he will review those that require consideration by the legislature.
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