TRENTON, NJ - Senator Nellie Pou, Assembly Deputy Speaker Shavonda Sumter and Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly have urged the Passaic Valley Water Commission to delay movement or construction of the Garret Mountain reservoir project and to consider alternatives to the current plan.

The legislators said the current plan of draining and replacing with concrete tanks three reservoirs –Stanley M. Levine, New Street and Great Notch – would damage the landscape, lower the property values in the neighboring communities and increase the utility bills of the residents of the areas.

The plan was adopted by the state Department of Environmental Protection through an administrative consent order in 2012 to comply with a federal mandate that requires covering or treating the water stored in open-air reservoirs. The federal mandate is under review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, whose report on the policy is expected in 2016.

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“We shouldn’t rush through a wrong-headed plan in order to meet guidelines that may change by 2016,” said Senator Nellie Pou (D- Passaic and Bergen). “In addition, it is troubling to me that there was no public review of the plan before its adoption. It makes no sense to start a $135 million project that will irreparably and negatively impact the tens of thousands of residents of the area. We are urging the commission to halt this project and to begin examining more sensible alternatives to the plan.”

“A project of this magnitude, with so many lives impacted by it, deserves deliberate attention and patience,” added Assembly Deputy Speaker Shavonda Sumter (D – Passaic and Bergen).  “I’m glad the commission has heeded my request for public input and I hope that moving forward this will be a collaborative effort with the Commission, the DEP and the community working together to ensure the best outcome.” 

“With so many questions still surrounding this project and an ongoing review taking place, to push it through under a cloak of darkness would be the height of irresponsibility,” said Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D – Passaic and Bergen). “Our children, our taxpayers and our environment deserve better than that and I would urge the commission to err on the side of caution.”