Both tools have become essential resources for members of the New Jersey community at a time when many New Jerseyans are becoming more aware of and concerned about issues such as lead exposure, drinking water contamination and the affordability of water. While especially prevalent in low-income communities and communities of color, these issues are also pervasive across the state. In 2020, 65 water systems reported the presence of approximately 114,000 known lead service lines, exposing some of the 4.8 million people who live in these service areas. In addition, at least 20% of households in nearly half of these water system service areas (27 out of 65) face some level of water accessibility stress.
However, data displayed on Jersey WaterCheck shows that progress is being made. Nearly 10% of water systems with lead pipes reported fewer lead service lines in 2020 than in 2019, indicating that efforts to replace lead service lines were well underway. Trenton Water Works, for example, replaced more than 4,000 lead service lines in 2019 and 2020.
“Frequently, BIPOC and overburdened communities are an afterthought regarding access to vital resources,” said Wynnie-Fred Victor Hinds, Jersey WaterCheck Data Advisory Board Member and Member of the Map Sub-Committee. risks and water equity. “So, in addition to being timely, the New Jersey Water Risk and Equity Map and the Jersey WaterCheck serve as beneficial tools that can be used – not only by academics and policy makers, but also by community members – to show critical data highlighting who is most affected and where much-needed resources should be allocated, while hopefully reducing and eliminating disparities.
“New Jersey’s public water systems face many costly issues – lead service lines, PFAS/PFOS contamination, new asset management laws, etc. – that will require serious decisions to be made about income needs and affordability,” said Daniel J. Van Abs, Jersey. Member of the WaterCheck Advisory Board. “Before Jersey WaterCheck was established, information on these issues was either non-existent or difficult for the public to access and compare. The most important advantage of the program is to bring together many types of information to enable the audience to understand a complex situation. This award recognizes the value of the long efforts of Jersey Water Works and its value to New Jersey.
The award announcement comes just a month after the City of Newark completed its lead the service line replacement programonce again positioning New Jersey at the forefront of water equity in the United States.
“New Jersey could become the first state in the country to replace all of its major service lines. But it will take hard work, funding and greater data transparency, and we are grateful for the Water Data Prize’s encouragement,” said Chris Sturm, future New Jersey Chief Policy and Water Officer. . “New Jersey is becoming a national water leader where water advocates, experts and local officials are working together to innovate on tough issues like eliminating lead from drinking water. ” Sturm and other NJ defenders are pushing for more funding to close the gap on critical water supply infrastructure needs.
New Jersey Future congratulates all Water Data Award Winnersincluding overall winners CDM Smith and the City of Newark.
The following Jersey WaterCheck Data Advisory Board members assisted in the creation of Jersey WaterCheck and continue to provide ongoing advice: