TRENTON, NJ- Today, the Flood Defense Act passed the Assembly Telecommunications & Utilities Committee. The bill, A2694/S1073, enables municipalities to create much-needed local stormwater programs to control flooding and reduce pollution.

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).

“New Jersey has a $16 billion problem to address stormwater and defend our communities from flooding,” said Ed Potosnak, executive director of New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “Consistent flooding and polluted runoff harm our wallets, our families, our businesses, and our environment. Without the means to address these problems, most municipalities can’t fix them. That’s why it’s so important this bill becomes law.”

More than 1,800 stormwater utilities exist in 40 states across the country, including Texas, Ohio, and Florida. 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.

“It is important that this critical policy is moving forward. There is no time to waste in protecting New Jersey’s economy and environment from the harm that comes with flooding and polluted runoff. I look forward to continuing to work with tireless advocates like New Jersey LCV on this and other crucial legislation that will keep strengthening New Jersey's infrastructure,” said Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin.

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.

“With every storm that passes, New Jerseyans suffer more and more. It’s so important we give communities the tools they need to defend against these more frequent and worsening storms. We look forward to seeing this bill pass the full Assembly, and we will work with the administration to make sure this bill becomes law,” said Potosnak.

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.