TRENTON, NJ – Legislation signed into law this week by Gov. Chris Christie, sponsored by eight lawmakers, including Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, will enable the state to continue funding critical projects that provide clean drinking water throughout the state.
“The Environmental Infrastructure Trust has a long history of supporting projects that protect our water resources, help deliver clean, safe drinking water, and support sustainable economic development,” said Zwicker. whose 16th Assembly District includes towns in Somerset,Mercer, Middlesex and Hunterdon counties.
His legislative colleague in the 16th District, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli was a co=sponsor of the bill.
“Few programs are as critical to the public’s health as this one and I’m pleased to see it signed into law. Residents and towns all over New Jersey will benefit from the enhancements and improvements this law will fund, particularly those devastated by Superstorm Sandy or acutely impacted by the presence of lead in the water,” Zwicker said.
The law authorizes the Trust to expend up to $411.35 million, as well as any unexpended balances from previous authorizations, to provide loans with an interest rate at or below the prevailing market rate to various government entities to help fund critical environmental infrastructure projects.
The annual reallocation will help fund a portion of the total costs of 80 eligible projects sponsored primarily by local governments, public authorities, or public water utilities.
Among the eligible projects are those included in the "Storm Sandy and State Fiscal Year 2017 Clean Water Project Eligibility List" and the "Storm Sandy and State Fiscal Year 2017 Drinking Water Project Priority List," as well as six clean water projects, and two drinking water environmental infrastructure projects that received loans in the past and now require supplemental funding in order to meet actual costs.
Given the state’s heightened focus on lead reduction, the legislation also authorizes the Trust to issue market-rate, short-term, temporary loans for wastewater treatment and water supply projects on the Interim Financing Program Project Priority List for the reduction of lead in publicly-owned facilities that are otherwise ineligible to receive funding for that purpose.
Since its creation in 1985, the Trust, in partnership with the Department of Environmental Protection, has provided low‑cost NJEIFP loans for the construction of environmental infrastructure projects that enhance and protect ground and surface water resources, ensure the safety of drinking water supplies, and make responsible and sustainable economic development possible.
Since 1985, NJEIFP loans to local government units and some private water companies have totaled more than $6.5 billion of which the Trust has provided more than $2.7 billion in loans to finance wastewater systems, combined sewer overflow abatement, nonpoint source pollution control and safe drinking water supplies generating more than 130,000 construction projects throughout the state.