TRENTON, NJ - Governor Christie has signed legislation sponsored by Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman, R-16th to improve the safety of New Jersey’s drinking water by holding public water systems accountable for making infrastructure improvements and inspections.
Bateman’s “Water Quality Accountability Act” will protect people from unsafe drinking water by requiring all public water systems to establish a cyber-security program and a plan for making infrastructure improvements and inspections.
“New Jersey residents are becoming more and more concerned about lead, bacteria and cancer-causing contaminants leeching into our drinking water, and given recent reports, they have every reason to feel this way,” Bateman said. “This legislation demands that public water systems make the improvements necessary to keep our families safe.”
Public water systems will now be required to establish an asset management plan for regular inspections, maintenance, and repairs to water infrastructure.
According to recent reports, as many 4.5 million people in New Jersey rely on suppliers that have broken federal rules meant to keep contaminants out of their drinking water.
As part of Bateman’s multifaceted legislative effort to improve New Jersey’s water infrastructure, the bill signed by Christie gives all public water systems one year to implement a plan designed to ensure its infrastructure consistent with industry standard best practices.
This plan must include a water supply and treatment program designed to inspect, maintain, repair, renew, and upgrade wells, intakes, pumps, and treatment facilities in accordance with all federal and State regulations, industry standards, and any mitigation plan that may be required pursuant to the bill.
The law requires public water systems to develop a cybersecurity program in accordance with requirements established by BPU. As part of the program, the public water system must conduct regular risk assessments, maintain situational awareness of cyber threats and vulnerabilities to the public water system, and create and exercise incident response and recovery plans.
“A well-organized cyber-attack has the potential to deprive countless families of utilities within minutes. It’s already happened in other parts of the country,” Bateman added. “Requiring action plans to identify vulnerabilities and respond to an attack if it happens will ensure all utilities are equipped to address 21st century threats.”