For Immediate Release – November 19, 2015
Senators Loretta Weinberg and Robert Gordon Along with the Save H2O NJ Coalition Call on Governor Christie to Take Urgently Needed Steps to Protect New Jersey’s Drinking Water
Atlantic City, NJ – The Save H2O NJ Coalition launched a campaign on Wednesday to call on Governor Christie and the NJ DEP to take urgently needed steps to protect New Jersey’s drinking water at a press conference at the 2015 State League of Municipalities Conference. The press conference featured Senators Loretta Weinberg and Robert Gordon as well as members of the Coalition.
“Protecting New Jersey’s drinking water supply is a cause we have to get right. Clean, abundant supplies of water are critical for drinking, for keeping the Garden State growing, and protecting our world-class environmental resources,” said Senate Majority Leader Weinberg. “Governor Christie needs to take action now to protect New Jersey’s water and release an updated Water Supply Master Plan as the law requires.”
Senator Gordon continued, “There’s a very good example of what poor planning looks like; it’s called California. California is running out of water because no one is concerned about demand outstripping supply. It’s going to have a horrendous effect on their economy. The same thing could happen here in New Jersey.”
The Water Supply Master Plan is almost two decades out of date. Without an up-to- date Water Supply Master Plan, the State lacks the tools to protect New Jersey’s drinking water from drought and contamination. Despite promises from the Christie Administration to release the Plan for public review and comment, it remains under wraps. “The Water Supply Plan needs to be updated with current data so that New Jersey can make smart decisions now to ensure that we have enough clean water to meet all of our needs in the future.,” commented Jennifer M. Coffey, Executive Director of ANJEC.
The Pinelands provides an example of a region at risk. It lies above the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer, a critical surficial aquifer that supports both residential and ecological communities. A number of watersheds are already likely in deficit including the Mullica River, Maurice River, and Cape May coastal watershed.
“The Pinelands Commission’s duty is to protect the Pinelands including the aquifer. The Pinelands Commission works in concert with NJ DEP to make sure water supply is sufficient to accommodate current and future development. If the NJ DEP doesn’t release the Water Supply Master Plan, then the Pinelands Commission must move forward in enforcing and enhancing its regulations to make sure the aquifer isn’t depleted”, said Jaclyn Rhoads, Assistant Executive Director at Pinelands Preservation Alliance.
Stacy McCormack of the American Littoral Society continued, “To provide some perspective, because of salt water intrusion, Cape May has already had to install a desalination plant to satisfy the drinking water needs of the community. This makes drinking water more expensive. Without a plan to map out responsible development and water allocation, we are left with policies that will further strain our drinking water supply.”
The Coalition launched a petition to push for the release of the Water Supply Master Plan and will work with leaders and communities throughout the State to highlight the urgent need for better planning and policy when it comes to drinking water. “Our drinking water policy and planning need an upgrade. The first step is to release the Water Supply Master Plan,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “Unfortunately for the people of New Jersey, this Governor has shown a calloused lack of concern for our drinking water. It’s time for him to act,” concluded Potosnak
About the Save H2O Coalition
The Save H2O Coalition began as a project between the Highlands Coalition and the Pinelands Preservation Alliance to highlight the importance of regional planning and water supply protection in the two regions that provide water to the majority of New Jersey residents. The coalition has expanded to launch a campaign to advocate for the release of the Water Supply Master Plan. Coalition Partners include the Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA), the Highlands Coalition, the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters (NJLCV), the American Littoral Society, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC).