New Jersey may take another stab at creating new utilities to deal with stormwater runoff, the state's most persistent problem fouling its waterways and causing major flooding.
The Senate Environment and Energy Committee is reviving a bill (S-1073) that would allow municipalities, counties, and certain authorities to create stormwater utilities, an approach used in other states to limit pollution caused by runoff.
The concept is not new in New Jersey, but it has failed to win final legislative approval in the past, even though the federal Environmental Protection Agency has ranked stormwater management as the state's most expensive water-related funding need at $15.6 billion.
With capital funding constrained not only for stormwater, but also for other needs, such as fixing and replacing aging mains that deliver drinking water to homes and businesses, the creation of a utility could impose user fees to finance a system to control and minimize runoff.
The idea already has won the endorsement of the environmental team that compiled a transition report for the Murphy administration, urging the governor to support legislation that allows user fees to support infrastructure for stormwater systems.
"It's really important for the state,'' said Ed Potosnak, director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, and a member of the transition team. "There's just no way to fund the cleanup of these stormwater systems now,'' he said.
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