Home > Uncategorized > The ARC is Not Alone: Trenton’s Other Infrastructure Disaster

The ARC is Not Alone: Trenton’s Other Infrastructure Disaster

How would Governor Christie look on a national stage when back home, his Capital City had no water?

DEP Commissioner Martin To Address Clean Water Council Tomorrow

[Update 2 – 10/22/10 – National picture is bleak too. File this story under under “C”, for “Collapse of Empire”: Infrastructure projects in N.J., other U.S. states put on hold amid struggling economy, spending slowdown

Update 1: 10/13/10 – Ed Rodgers of NJN TV did a nice job on last night’s news covering the Council’s hearing – watch it at time 13:28 here. I’ll post my take on what transpired later today.]

Governor Christie’s rash and reckless decision to cancel the ARC rail tunnel to Manhattan – followed just days later by reconsideration – prompted widespread media attention.

Ironically, the Governor’s bad decision provoked intense media focus on an important under-reported story: the critical importance of infrastructure investment and the need to finance that deficit.

The Governor’s decision also provided ammunition to advocates and critics, allowing them to effectively focus on how Christie’s anti-government and anti-tax ideology is a disaster for NJ’s economic future, air quality, and transportation mobility.

But, at the same time, there was another equally important infrastructure disaster unfolding in Trenton.

Just as the Statewide drought was abating, the Trenton regional public water supply system collapsed.

As a result, for several days, virtually the entire Trenton Capital Region – including the State House – was without water or under Third World like boil water alerts.

Had there been a fire, there would have been no water to fight it.

Bacterially contaminated water that flowed through the system – for days without warnings to consumers – posed deadly risks for infants and people with immune system disorders.

In contrast with the ARC story, which got national media attention, the Trenton drinking water story was confined to the local Trenton press.

How would Governor Christie look on a national stage when back home, his Capital City had no water?

Shockingly, the Trenton region is not alone – aging and poorly maintained public water supply systems are vulnerable throughout NJ.

Back to the Trenton story –

In a dramatic move, a professional licensed water system operator who worked for the Trenton waterworks for 33 years resigned and blew the whistle. He  marched directly to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) building – press in tow (watch the video) – to report what he described as a coverup of the real cause of the collapse.

Few seem to know that DEP is deeply involved in this situation:

Yet despite this comprehensive DEP role, all local press reports of the episode failed to connect the dots to broader State infrastructure investment and DEP regulatory policies.

Tomorrow’s Clean Water Advisory Council’s annual public hearing at the DEP Building provides an opportunity to explore these kind of water supply infrastrucure deficit and management issues in detail.

On Tuesday, October 12, 2010, the New Jersey Clean Water Council will seek public testimony on its Draft Recommendations for Water Infrastructure Management and Financing. New Jersey’s water infrastructure – water supply, wastewater, stormwater – is aging, with failures being common news. In response, the Council has released a white paper for public consideration and comment.

We provided a heads up and outlined some of the issues in last week’s set up post: “Clean Water Council Considering Privatization

According to a late Friday afternoon press release, DEP Commissioner Martin will speak to the Council. I am eager to hear Martin talk about the Christie Administration’s commitments and detailed plans to:

I’m signed up to testify and urge readers to attend and speak (there is no requirement to pre-register).

We’ll keep you posted about what goes down at the hearing.

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