New Jersey must urgently address water quality and the need to fund updates and upgrades to our state’s water infrastructure. Building on the successes of the collaboration over the past seven years, Jersey Water Works (JWW) Steering Committee members are committed to continuing to drive change to impact New Jersey’s water infrastructure. In 2017, JWW brought together stakeholders to affect change and outlined a consensus-based “action agenda” with four shared goals, first defined in the report Our Water Transformed: An Action Agenda for New Jersey’s Water Infrastructure. They are:
- Effective and Financially Sustainable Systems: Communities maintain and improve drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure systems to deliver quality water services that meet community needs. Operating budgets and capital investment are adequate and affordable, resulting in systems that operate efficiently and in a state of good repair.
- Empowered Stakeholders: Well-informed decision makers, community partners, residents, and ratepayers participate actively and influence the planning and management of their water infrastructure. They fully understand the importance of taking care of water infrastructure, including the costs of inaction.
- Successful and Beneficial Green Infrastructure: Communities employ green infrastructure in a way that maximizes community benefits, including reduced flooding and improved water quality, local economies, community health, and long-term resiliency.
- Smart Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Plans: Municipalities and utilities adopt innovative CSO Long Term Control Plans (LTCPs) with cost-effective solutions that meet or exceed permit requirements and provide multiple community benefits.
Today, JWW is a big tent. Its unique purpose is to take action that involves collaborative decision-making and building credibility. JWW’s network includes different perspectives for sustainable actions to ensure clean, safe, drinking water and wastewater services are available for everyone in all communities at an affordable rate.
In early April 2022, after two years of virtual meetings, the Steering Committee met in person to define what success would look like in the next three to five years. The retreat allowed participants to network and connect. Members affirmed the collaborative’s purpose and envisioned four major strategic directions. In the next three to five years, the collaborative will:
- Integrate climate resilience in JWW committee work.
- Promote the need and prioritization of funding for water infrastructure projects to remove barriers that under-resourced and systemically marginalized communities face.
- Pursue partnerships to advance water workforce development and career pathways.
- Enhance understanding of the importance of clean, affordable, access for all New Jerseyans to essential water, wastewater, and stormwater services via education and outreach.
Jersey Water Works’ power lies in its partnerships and its bold vision to transform New Jersey’s water infrastructure. JWW members work together across boundaries to support, endorse, and implement strategies identified by the collaborative to address the critical issues facing water infrastructure and drive systemic change. JWW’s members believe that well-informed decision-makers, community partners, residents, and ratepayers should participate actively to influence the planning and management of their water infrastructure. Their collective voices guide new laws and practices to impact water quality and to push for resources needed to ensure proper stewardship of the state’s water resources.