Patricia Lindsay-Harvey, Willingboro Municipal Utility Authority Commissioner and Shawn LaTourette, NJDEP Commissioner, presenting New Jersey’s commitments at the One Water Summit in Milwaukee, WI. Photo credit: Andrea Sapal
“I have been a resident of Willingboro for 45 years now. I’ve been an activist since that very first day, and I’ve always been involved in the community.” Community member Patricia Lindsay-Harvey shared, with the passion and pride tied to her life of advocacy and community engagement made clear in her smile. “In high school, they told us that you can’t just live in a community, that you have to also make a positive impact in it. I don’t know anything else.”
Lindsay-Harvey, appointed as the commissioner of the Willingboro Municipal Utility Authority (MUA) in 2020, has been passionate about water and the environment for far longer than her current position in water utilities. She is also presently the co-chair of the Climate Resilience committee with Jersey Water Works, and a steering committee member of the collaborative. “This is the planet that we live on. Water became more important to me because it’s not something you can live without”.
Lindsay-Harvey expressed concern around a threat to water quality that has more recently come to attention in New Jersey: contamination of drinking water with perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS chemicals. PFAS—a class of chemicals consisting of more than 4,700 chemical molecules—poses a major threat to human and environmental health given its persistence in the body and the environment, earning PFAS chemicals the name “forever chemicals.” In New Jersey, according to Lindsay-Harvey, water utilities have been tasked with identifying and addressing unsafe levels of PFAS in drinking water, while the corporations responsible for the contamination remain free from accountability. Lindsay-Harvey explained, “It’s going to cost utilities authorities and people money for a problem they didn’t cause.”
In addition to working on issues of climate resilience and water contamination, Patricia Lindsay-Harvey participates often in JWW’s Green Infrastructure (GI) committee, facilitating workshops around Green Infrastructure. On World Water Day, Lindsay-Harvey, along with Rachel Dawn Davis, Public Policy and Justice Organizer of Waterspirit, facilitated a workshop geared toward youth, titled Be the Change: Unleash the Power of Green Infrastructure. This was all arranged via the JWW GI committee to meet the goal of educating about the benefits of green infrastructure, in which 10 presentations were facilitated by Green Infrastructure champions.
“I want to take the opportunity to thank you once again for being with us at the Perth Amboy World Water Day event at the Runyon Watershed. Your presentation initiated the enthusiasm the students held throughout the tour and really helped them see how they can “Be the Change” in light of our global water issues. The Green Team appreciates your time and looks forward to working together on future projects in the future,” said Joel Rosa in response to Lindsay-Harvey’s presentation. Rosa is an administrative analyst with the City of Perth Amboy’s Department of Business Administration, and a steering committee member with Jersey Water Works.
Most recently, Lindsay-Harvey’s work in water has been recognized at the One Water Conference in Milwaukee. On September 14, Patricia Lindsay-Harvey accepted a One Water Prize award for Outstanding Private Sector Organization on behalf of Schneider Electric for their work with the Willingboro Municipal Utilities Authority. A public-private partnership for mutual benefit of the utility and the community, these parties collaboratively developed a project to help control costs while overhauling the utility’s energy and metering systems. This award demonstrates Lindsay-Harvey’s ability to lead on issues around water and energy and is indicative of her constant drive to instill positive change in her community.
All in all, Patricia Lindsay-Harvey’s work with Jersey Water Works and the Willingboro Municipal Utility Authority demonstrates her notable capacity to lead on water-related issues and to promote health and resilience across the state of New Jersey. Her dedication to collaboration, partnerships, and focusing on solutions makes her a significant asset to the Jersey Water Works collaborative. Lindsay-Harvey’s commitment to sustainability, equity, and resilience is clear, and the work she is a part of holds value not only for today, but for years to come. As she puts it, “We need water to live and this planet we live on. It’s really irresponsible to create an environment that won’t be healthy for the future. We don’t have the right to destroy it for future generations.”