Opponents of new charges dismiss them as ‘rain tax,’ but advocates argue utilities will finally make it possible to address runoff, state’s biggest source of water pollution
A decade-long battle to give local governments a tool to deal with storm runoff — the state’s biggest source of pollution for streams, rivers, and bays — ended yesterday with Gov. Phil Murphy signing a bill without fanfare that will do just that.
The legislation (S-1073/A-2694) permits municipalities and other entities to set up utilities that could impose fees — dubbed a “rain tax” by opponents — on parking lots and other impervious surfaces to fund improvements to failing stormwater management systems.
Aging stormwater systems, typically poorly maintained, have long been recognized as the largest source of contamination of state waters. With heavy rains, the runoff from impervious areas mixes with pesticides, oils, and other pollutants to foul the water or exacerbate flooding.
“With stormwater runoff becoming an increasingly prevalent problem, frequent flooding is polluting waterways and causing millions of dollars of damage, snarling traffic, threatening drinking water, and even endangering lives,’’ said Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.
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