TRENTON, NJ- Today, the Flood Defense Act passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee, clearing the way for a full Assembly floor vote, which could happen as soon as this Thursday. The bill, A2694/S1073, enables municipalities to create much-needed local stormwater programs to control flooding and reduce pollution. It previously passed the Assembly Telecommunications & Utilities Committee on October 22 of last year.
The Flood Defense Act permits local communities to create a “stormwater utility,” which is a dedicated fund to help fix infrastructure and reduce polluted runoff from entering their waterways. The bill is permissive, not mandatory, and gives local governments an important tool to defend against flooding. It is sponsored in the Assembly by John McKeon (D-27) and Nancy Pinkin (D-18).
“Local flooding is a huge problem and local leaders need the ability to protect their communities from it,” said Ed Potosnak, executive director of New Jersey League of Conservation Voters (New Jersey LCV). “A flood defense program is not a liberal or conservative idea – it’s a common-sense idea. We applaud the Committee for voting to give New Jersey what 40 states already have – the power to protect their communities from damaging stormwater flooding and pollution.”
The Flood Defense New Jersey coalition, led by New Jersey LCV Education Fund, launched in November and strongly supports the bill. The coalition is made up of state and local nonprofit organizations working to protect our communities from damaging floods and harmful stormwater pollution.
More than 1,800 stormwater utilities exist in 41 states across the country. These utilities assess a fee based on how much impervious surface, such as concrete, rooftops or pavement, is on a property. These kinds of surfaces contribute to flooding problems and cause polluted runoff to enter bodies of water.
Revenue from the fee is kept separate from general funds and cannot be raided or spent on other needs. Therefore, it is invested back into the community, creating local jobs for public works projects that fix existing infrastructure and create green, natural ways to absorb water directly into the ground.
“A community will now have a proven model to address the serious environmental impacts of stormwater runoff in these areas, resulting in cleaner waterways, cleaner land, and safer, healthier communities for all New Jerseyans to enjoy”, said Assemblyman McKeon.
The Senate version of the bill, sponsored by Senators Bob Smith (D-17) and Kip Bateman (R-16), passed with bipartisan support in June with a 25-15 vote count.
“New Jersey League of Conservation Voters and our Flood Defense New Jersey partners are pleased to see this bill on track for final passage,” said Potosnak. “When the Assembly passes the bill and Governor Murphy signs it, local municipalities will finally have a proven model to address the growing threat of stormwater flooding and pollution.
New Jersey League of Conservation Voters is a non-partisan organization whose mission is to elect environmental champions, hold public officials accountable, and support laws which protect our environment and improve the quality of people’s lives. For more information on the Flood Defense Act, see .