|The New Jersey Senate has passed legislation sponsored by Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman to improve the safety of New Jersey’s drinking water by holding public water systems accountable for making infrastructure improvements and inspections.|
“As many 4.5 million people in New Jersey rely on suppliers that have broken federal rules meant to keep contaminants out of our water. That is unacceptable,” Senator Bateman (R-16) said. “People are becoming more and more concerned about harmful bacteria and cancer-causing chemicals leeching into our water, and given these reports, they have every reason to feel this way. This act will hold all public water systems accountable for making the improvements necessary to ensure consumer safety. We simply cannot take chances when it comes to protecting the health of our residents.”
Senator Bateman’s “Water Quality Accountability Act” (S-2834) would require all public water systems to establish an asset management plan for regular inspections, maintenance, and repairs to water infrastructure.
As part of Senator Bateman’s multifaceted legislative effort to improve New Jersey’s water infrastructure, S-2834 would give all public water systems one year to implement a plan designed to ensure its infrastructure consistent with industry standard best practices.
This plan must include a water supply and treatment program designed to inspect, maintain, repair, renew, and upgrade wells, intakes, pumps, and treatment facilities in accordance with all federal and State regulations, industry standards, and any mitigation plan that may be required pursuant to the bill.
Under the bill, a public water system would have 120 days following enactment to develop a cybersecurity program in accordance with requirements established by BPU. As part of the program, the public water system must conduct regular risk assessments, maintain situational awareness of cyber threats and vulnerabilities to the public water system, and create and exercise incident response and recovery plans.
“Cyber-attacks on public utilities have already happened in other parts of the country. We cannot let it happen in New Jersey,” Senator Bateman (R-16) said. “A well-organized attack has the potential to deprive countless families of water within minutes. Requiring action plans to identify vulnerabilities and respond to an attack if it happens will ensure all utilities are equipped to address 21st century threats.”