Examining New Jersey's Aging Water System

Steve Adubato speaks with Chris Sturm, Managing Director, Policy & Water, New Jersey Future, about New Jersey’s aging water system and the impact of Newark’s water crisis on families across the city.

10/12/19 #322






"State of Affairs is pleased to welcome Chris Sturm, who is Managing Director of Policy and Water at New Jersey Future. Good to see you Chris. Hi Steve. Nice to be here. Tell folks what New Jersey Future is. New Jersey Future cares about the state of New Jersey, and wants it to be the best place for everyone to live. And so we work on statewide issues, making sure that we're developing in the right places in the right ways, we're investing in our infrastructure in smart ways, and preserving a healthy environment. You know, infrastructure. Never a sexy word. You know? But an important part of the economy. An important part of our quality of life. So today, while we're taping State of Affairs, we had the mayor of Newark, Ras Baraka, talking about the water situation in Newark. It's a serious problem. But it isn't just Newark. It's communities all over the state. All over this nation. So let's deal with New Jersey. There are 300,000 water service lines in New Jersey. What does that mean? And why does that matter? Right. So there are 300 pipes connecting homes to the water main under the street. 300,000? 300,000. Thank you. Okay. 300,000 pipes that connect homes to the water main under the street. And they're lined with lead. And lead leeches in from those pipes into the tap water as the water enters the home. What we've learned from Newark is that we can't rely on corrosion control or filters. They're good short term solutions, but in the long term, we need to remove the source of the lead. We need to remove those pipes. And that is a statewide challenge. How expensive are we talking? Our best estimate is about $2,000,000,000. Mm hmm. $2,000,000,000? Right. Right. But we think it's an investment that pays for itself in lower costs for education, for public health, even for things like incarceration. Wait, hold on. What does that have to do with public education? Public health? Incarceration? Right. Well lead is a really powerful neurotoxin that impairs the healthy brain development of young children. And so if children have lead poisoning, and they can get it from paint, and soil, as well as water, it impairs their ability to learn, lowers their IQs, and causes behavior problems. And those kinds of things cause problems down the line. So let's stay on this. I'm curious about the whole question of what we need to do. Mm hmm. Now it's one thing to say we need to change the pipes, but I am curious about something. And I know I'm not the only one who's thinking this. These are lead pipes? Right. What made folks think... the so-called experts, the engineers, the people who were making this happen, the policymakers, what made them..."