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DeAngelo, Benson & Wimberly Legislation Improving Public Water Services Clears Full Assembly

Legislation Aimed at Improving Staffing, Public Awareness and Transparency (TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Telecommunications & Utilities Committee Chairman Wayne P. DeAngelo, Daniel Benson and Benjie Wimberly to improve the operations of public water systems in order to better serve the customers was approved by the full assembly on Thursday. "Everyone deserves safe and clean drinking water regardless of where it comes from or who provides the service," said DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex). "These bills are the first steps along the path to restoring the public's confidence that they do not need to be concerned about the delivery of water from a public service." "To improve the quality of our water, we must make sure system operations are run efficiently with the right procedures and staff in place to ensure protection of water quality for the many residents it serves," said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). "These bills are the first of many steps toward getting the concerns we've seen raised at Trenton Water Works resolved and to ensure it does not happen anywhere else in the state." "Water system operations are key to protecting the thousands of families it provides for from unsafe drinking water," said Wimberly (D- Bergen, Passaic). "With the right staff and procedures in place, we can make sure these facilities are doing their best job to inform residents of water concerns in a timely manner and retain a skilled and professional staff." The full Assembly approved the following measures: · A-3352 - (DeAngelo, Benson and Wimberly) - specific guidelines would be put in place to notify municipal officials and the public in emergency cases or other incidences that cause the issuance of a boil water notice. The public water system would be required to notify the mayor and municipal clerk or their authorized designee of every town serviced within one hour of the problem. · A-3353 - (DeAngelo and Benson) - would require greater public awareness of the operation of public water system in order to improve accountability to customers. · A-3354 -- (DeAngelo, Benson and Wimberly) - would allow a professional licensed engineer with a college degree or four-years of more of curriculum in engineering to be admitted to take any examination for a water supply or water treatment systems operator license. · A-3937 -- (DeAngelo) -- would allow for employees of local government operated water systems to reside in any town serviced by it. The bill, if passed into law, would supersede any municipal ordinance that limits employees to residents of the municipality that operates the system. "Limiting the pool of potential employees to one municipality can keep highly-qualified employees from fill empty, critical jobs," said DeAngelo said on A-3937. "If you live in a town that is serviced by a public water system and have the needed skill-set, then you should have the ability to work for that system." The four bills were unanimously approved, 74-0, by the full Assembly. The bills will now go to the Senate for further consideration.

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