Home > Uncategorized > Christie Clean Water Funding Claims Inflated – Funding Level Actually Cut, Reforms Stalled, Huge Deficit Remains

Christie Clean Water Funding Claims Inflated – Funding Level Actually Cut, Reforms Stalled, Huge Deficit Remains

Governor Christie held a Photo-Op press conference on Barnegat Bay yesterday, and is getting lots of positive media today for signing legislation authorizing $650 million in “clean water” loans from the NJ Environmental Infrastructure Trust (NJEIT) See:

The Governor’s accomplishment here is exaggerated and the press reports have a number of flaws:

1) they report the $650 million as “clean water”. This is misleading because it is a combination of “clean water” and “drinking water” money, which are distinct funding categories at DEP and NJEIT (AC Press story gets this right);

2) they leave out historical funding levels that would allow comparison of Christie to prior administrations. This is important because the Governor is taking credit, which is something he didn’t do for last year’s paltry NJEIT funding cycle (see below data), 

3) the stories fail to place funding in context, with respect to the total unfunded water infrastructure deficit.

4) There is no discussion of the controversies regarding allowable uses of the “clean water” funds and related policy problems of using funds to promote sprawl, subsidize private “brownfields” developers, and engage in pay-to-play corruption, all of which were exposed by the recent Encap scandal and Inspector General Cooper’s report. (see:

Because we’ve worked on infrastructure issues for some time, I thought we’d provide readers the data on historical NJEIT funding levels, and compare Christie with prior Administrations.

Here is the NJ EIT website data, take from individual annual May reports to the Legislature:

YEAR      Amount

2006 -      $832 million (Corzine)
2007 -      $905 million
2008 -      $705 million
2009 -      no comparable data due to federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act
2010 -      $380 million (Christie)
2011 -      $650 million

So, it appears that Governor Christie has presided over significant reductions in NJEIT clean water and safe drinking water loan funding.

I also thought it would be good to put the annual authorization in the context of the overall water infrastucture needs.

NJ’s drinking water infrastructure deficit is $8 billion.

But that drinking water infrastructure deficit is dwarfed by overall clean water and stormwater management needs, which exceed $20 billion (sorry, this link is from an old post. DEP killed this link to the DEP’s own Infrastructure Needs Assessment – I will find another functioning link).

NJ has a total $28 billion water infrastruture deficit (exclusive of significant costs to adapt to global warming sea level rise). At $650 million/year,that will take over 40 years to finance. But by then, the tab for crumbling infrastructure will be even higher!

As I wrote last year (see: Drinking Water Needs Are Critical and Ignored):

The American Society of Civil Engineers recently issued a national Report Card – Drinking water infrastructure was determined to be the most urgent infrastructure need and it got a D minus grade! (here is NJ’s State assessment).

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducts a national drinking water infrastructure needs assessment and submits bi-annual Reports to Congress.

According to EPA’s most recent Report, NJ has a  drinking water infrastructure deficit of  $7.962 BILLION ($4.7 BILLION for transmission and distribution alone – for NJ data, see page 18 of EPA’s Report)).

Drinking water projects received just $272 million in this year’s financing at that rate, it would take 40 years to catch up with current deficits. Of course, over that time period, billions more in investment would be required to maintain NJ’s aging infrastructure.

So, contrary to the Governor’s spin and media reports, we’ve got a lot of unfunded work and much needed policy reforms remain to be addressed.

[End Note: I have heard that retirement and staff cuts at DEP have slowed down the processing and oversight of loans, stalling clean water projects. Due to the hiring freeze, DEP is uanble to backfill positions of staff that retire – this is the worst of all possible worlds, as DEP loses experienced professionals and manpower. The environment and the economy suffer from this shortsighted mismangement.]

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