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Trenton – The week-long environmental activities following Earth Day should include attention to the vital need in New Jersey to take immediate and long-term steps to protect water supplies from contamination, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim McGreevey said on Monday. With the Delaware River in the background and a Trenton water pumping station behind him, Mr. McGreevey described his three-point clean water plan as both an environmental and public health initiative.

“The preservation and protection of water supplies is a vital environmental concern and a public health issue,” said Mr. McGreevey. “Clean water is literally the wellspring of life for people and for the rivers, streams and water resources that support all forms of life. Every parent in New Jersey has the right to know that the water their children use for drinking, showering or swimming is clean and pure.”

As governor, Mr. McGreevey would use a three-point action plan to monitor and safeguard water supplies with tougher standards, more forceful enforcement and better planning. The standards include: stricter limits on industrial and sewer discharges; more stringent limits for non-point pollution; improving protective status for sources of drinking water and more planning before large-scale sewer expansions are allowed.

The stronger enforcement encompasses: the reallocation of a portion of the Corporate Business Tax to better protect watershed properties; a review of the Office of Dispute Resolution to ensure that polluters are held accountable; bolster the environmental enforcement section of the Attorney General’s Office, and the appointment of a stronger environmental commissioner empowered with the full support and leadership of the governor.

Mr. McGreevey previously offered a plan to revise and reform the state’s open space preservation program to include ways to better protect water resources. The need for these changes was reinforced by a recently-released investigative report from the attorney general’s office documenting misdirected priorities and abuses in the program.

The smarter planning covers: the adoption of a river restoration plan; find new options for wastewater, including pilot projects and financial incentives to spur innovative solutions, and the adoption of a comprehensive water resource plan to ensure the long-term protection of water sources.

Documenting the decline and vulnerability of water sources in the state are a number of scientific measurements, expert assessments and governmental studies. The statewide water inventory report from the Department of Environmental Protection found rivers unsafe for swimming, streams no longer able to fully sustain aquatic life and freshwater lakes unable to meet basic standards of purity.

The federal government recently reported that New Jersey’s watersheds are among the most polluted. Another study by the U. S. Geological Survey found that groundwater supplies in agricultural areas with high levels of nitrate contamination. To rectify these problems, Mr. McGreevey wants to reduce chemical runoffs and offer financial incentives to provide water buffers.

Mr. McGreevey is the author of the landmark Pollution Prevention Act, a nationally-recognized means of preventing pollution from occurring by going to the source.


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