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WASHINGTON - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $500 million loan to the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank to modernize wastewater and drinking water systems serving over 10 million people throughout New Jersey. This is the first loan issued through the State Infrastructure Financing Authority Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (SWIFIA) program, which provides loans exclusively to state infrastructure financing authority borrowers, commonly known as state revolving fund programs.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) was front and center at the AFA’s live event on March 30th. The event featured four agency heads who described how the estimated $13 billion in federal BIL funds coming to New Jersey will support the State’s economic, environmental, and social justice goals. NJ DOT Commissioner, Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, spoke on how transportation funds will rebuild the State’s roads, and bridges and provide better, safer pathways for pedestrians and cyclists. NJ DEP Commissioner, Shawn LaTourette described the funds being made available to expand access to clean drinking water emphasizing the importance of environmental health for economic vitality. NJ BPU President, Joe Fiordaliso informed listeners on the Board’s plan to promote and facilitate access to broadband. NJ Transit Senior Vice President of Capital Programs, Eric Daleo presented projects that NJ Transit has for improving the State’s rails and rapid transit lines. Each leader noted the common initiative by all their agencies to support resiliency and clean energy projects. An important message for the AFA membership in attendance was that the funds and associated infrastructure projects are likely to create over 15,000 direct construction jobs each year for the next 10 years.
Of particular interest to prospective Water Bank and Transportation Bank project sponsors were comments made by the Commissioners of the NJ DOT and NJ DEP.
Commissioner Gutierrez-Scaccetti framed her discussion around the challenges of moving people and freight up and down New Jersey’s coast, citing corrosive salt on the roads and climate change increasing the frequency and power of storms. The Commissioner hailed the BIL legislation as helping to repair and rebuild New Jersey roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety with $4.1 billion anticipated for Transit, $6.9 billion for highways, an additional $1.4 billion for bridges, $104 million for electric vehicle charging stations and $25 million for ferry facilities. Gutierrez-Scaccetti addressed those who serve municipalities and counties to encourage their clients to take advantage of the I-Bank’s Transportation Bank financing program noting that the I-Bank’s low-cost short-term financing could be used either to directly financing a project, or in conjunction with DOT’s Local Aid Grants to finance excess costs, or to jump start project construction in advance of the receipt of grant funds whereby the grant funds could be used subsequently to pay back the principal of those I-Bank loans.
Commissioner LaTourette opened his remarks by reaffirming the NJ DEP’s central role to promote the public good, stating “Our work sits squarely at the intersection of environmental health, social, and economic improvement.” He noted the State’s $30 billion need for water infrastructure due to historic underinvestment and stressed the Department’s intention to help steward water and flood resistance issues as well to work in concert with other agencies towards the electrification of public vehicles.
The Commissioner noted that over the next five years, the BIL will provide an additional $445 million for clean water SRF projects, noting the systemic need to address combined sewer systems, $193 million for drinking water SRF projects, $244 million for lead service line removal, $65 million for Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) projects and an additional $38 million to address the causes of harmful algal bacteria outbreaks (HABs). LaTourette commended the I-Bank and its long and successful partnership with the NJ DEP’s State Revolving Fund program (SRF) in financing the construction of critical environmental infrastructure and saving rate payers almost $3 billion in financing costs over the years.
In addition to water infrastructure, the Commissioner expressed the importance of flood resistance infrastructure, shore restoration and the Ida recovery bill and confirmed that NJ DEP would be partnering with State’s Department of Community Affairs to spend $230 million on flood resistance. He also explained that there were federal funds planned for school and transit buses, and vehicle charging corridors in accordance with Governor Murphy’s clean energy goals.
The panel discussion on “Getting the Most for New Jersey out of Federal Infrastructure Dollars” was moderated by Paul Monte, Co-Managing Partner at Peckar & Abramson, included Darlene Regina, COO at ACCNJ, Joseph A. Fiordaliso, President, American Council of Engineering Companies of NJ, Robert McDonough, Managing Director, Marsh & Marsh, Steven Gardner, Director, NJ LECET, and Dan Kennedy, Senior Director, UTCA of NJ.
One of the main themes of the panel was the challenges that exist backfilling engineering and construction jobs given the expected influx of project dollars from the BIL and current labor force retirements. Mr. Fiordaliso noted that the short-fall of engineers is exacerbated because the majority of recent engineering graduates are more interested in “designing software rather than designing culverts.” All the panelists agreed that, while the BIL is a good start, additional funds are required to meet the public health, environmental and economic infrastructure needs of the country.
DEP adds Environmental Justice Category to Annual Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards
Nominations are being accepted through October 11th for all categories. The excellence awards program is sponsored by the DEP, New Jersey Infrastructure Bank, and the New Jersey Corporation for Advanced Technology. Award winners will be honored at a ceremony to be conducted virtually in December.
“Our environment is an asset to be cherished and nourished by all New Jerseyans,” said David Zimmer, Executive Director of the Infrastructure Bank. “Once again, this year’s award winners have demonstrated a level of creativity and passion that leads the way for others and benefits us all. On behalf of the NJ I-Bank Board and its staff, we celebrate the environmental successes recognized by Governor Murphy and this valuable awards program and are proud to be associated with it.” Read more:
The Murphy Administration invested $386 Million in Water Infrastructure, creating more than 4,600 construction jobs.
Infrastructure projects are supported by zero-interest NJDEP loans and NJ Infrastructure Bank sale of $122.5 Million in Green Bonds.
Governor Murphy’s continuing commitment to infrastructure investments enhance public health, protect the environment, and create green jobs. The NJ Infrastructure Bank (I-Bank) working in partnership with the NJDEP sold $122.5 million of AAA/Aaa rated Environmental Infrastructure Bonds, Acting DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette and I-Bank Chair Robert Briant, Jr. announced today.
“As New Jersey recovers from the pandemic, we must seize the opportunity to create family-sustaining green jobs that put our residents back to work building the critical water infrastructure that our state needs to protect our environment and public health,” Acting DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said. “Through the DEP’s incredible partnership with the I-Bank, we combine forces to create the New Jersey Water Bank, which offers innovative and affordable financing for water purveyors and local governments to make investments that promote the public good.”
NJ Transportation Bank announces the recipients of funding allocations for the 4th quarter of SFY2021!
Camden County has been allocated $15,058,710 for the replacement of the White Horse Road Bridge over PATCO and NJ TRANSIT Rail Lines.
These allocations are based on each project's ranking on the Transportation Bank Project Priority List, as determined by the NJDOT's ranking methodology, as well as the project's readiness to proceed, and are subject to availability of Program funds as well as the Project Sponsor's agreement with the project's Scheduled Award Date.
The management of storm water runoff has become a priority for many communities in New Jersey in recent years due to the increase of and impact from extreme weather events. Some of the most complicated problems with storm water management occur in Combined Sewer Systems (CSS). In the late 1800s and early 1900s many cities built CSSs, which at the time provided a contemporary solution for conveying sewage and stormwater efficiently from urban areas. In optimal conditions, the stormwater and sewage were combined and conveyed to a sewage treatment plant. But today, with population growth and the concentrated development in urban areas, the piping system of a CSS can become overwhelmed by volume. In such instances, excess flows are diverted (stormwater AND sewage) into nearby waterways through combined sewer overflow (CSO) outfalls. This excess combined sewage can also flood and back up into neighborhoods, which can be a threat to human health. The abatement of CSOs is an expensive and complicated problem to address since urban areas where CSSs exist are often fully developed and because control alternatives, such as sewer separation, can result in significant disturbances. In addition, due to the inter-connected nature of sewer systems among neighboring communities, a downstream region’s strategy for addressing its CSOs is directly impacted by the amount of flows from their upstream neighbors which impacts the pipe capacity of the CSS, thereby increasing the likelihood of CSOs.
In response to the Clean Water Act, the National CSO Policy, and the New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NJPDES) Regulations, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) issued 25 individu al NJPDES permits to require the submission of a Long-Term Control Plan (LTCP) to reduce or eliminate CSOs. These permits were issued to the permittee who owns/operates the combined sewer system as well as the permittee who owns/operates the receiving wastewater treatment plant. These permits affect 21 municipalities in New Jersey with CSO outfalls. The permit requirements stress the development of regional strategies to reduce the amount of storm water that flows into CSSs and requires the municipality and sewage treatment plant to work cooperatively. Public participation and engagement are also requirements of the permit throughout the LTCP process.
Conventional stormwater management techniques include pipes, sewers, expansion of the sewage treatment plant capacity and other structures that are often referred to as “gray infrastructure.” One of the more common practices is known as off-line storage, where combined effluent is diverted to a tank, a basin, or a deep tunnel until either the rain event has subsided, or a wastewater treatment plant has the capacity to treat the discharge.
Green infrastructure can also be utilized to abate CSOs. Green infrastructure projects simulate natural hydrologic methods to reduce the quantity and rate of stormwater flow to the CSS. Green infrastructure strategies can include rain gardens, bioswales, porous pavement, green roofs, infiltration planters, trees, and rainwater harvesting rain gardens. These small-scale green infrastructure strategies help to keep stormwater out of the CSS through infiltration, evapotranspiration, and rainwater harvesting. The capture and reuse of rainwater preserves the resource and keeps it out of the CSS during critical storm events. Green infrastructure is also compatible with the principals of Low Impact Development, a land development policy that reproduces natural methods of managing stormwater as close to its source as possible.
The 21 New Jersey municipalities with CSSs are encouraged to include green infrastructure projects in their LTCPs because these measures can contribute to CSO control while providing environmental, social, and economic benefits. In addition to alleviating flooding issues, green infrastructure can improve water and air quality, reduce energy use and urban heat island effects, create green jobs and improve quality of life. Larger scale green infrastructure strategies can also increase recreational and economic opportunities, improve wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and help mitigate flooding. Redevelopment opportunities become more promising as well when infrastructure can handle the population intended to use it.
As community leaders become aware of additional available funding sources, such as the NJ Water Bank, a financing program run jointly by the NJDEP and the NJ I-Bank, they can overcome some of the obstacles that have been impeding critical infrastructure repair. The NJ Water Bank is a vanguard lending institution in the State, helping communities take advantage of available funds with low-interest rate loans and principal forgiveness loans. The Water Bank has dedicated $25 million in Principal Forgiveness Loans for Combined Sewer Overflow Abatement projects utilizing gray and green practices. When NJ entities are willing to invest in their water infrastructure, the benefits are numerous. By doing so, these entities contribute to the stimulation of the economy, the reduction of environmental and health impacts, and the enhancement of communities with neighborhood beautification.
Lead is not normally found in drinking water at the source. Typically, lead gets into drinking water from the service lines, plumbing and fixtures that contain lead. As a result of corrosion, lead and other metals from the pipes slowly dissolve into the water. Many factors affect the amount of lead that leaches into the water, including lead content of pipes, fixtures, and solder, along with water temperature, pH and hardness. Lead is associated with adverse health impacts even at low levels, particularly in infants and children.
According to an American Water Works Association survey from 2018, New Jersey has an estimated 350,000 Lead Service Lines (LSLs). To address the risk from lead in water, Jersey Water Works, with support from The Fund for New Jersey, convened a 30-member task force of representatives from local, state and federal governments; water utilities; academia; environmental, smart growth and community advocates and public health organizations. Beginning in December 2018, the task force worked to determine practical, cost-effective, equitable, and permanent solutions to ensure that people across the state can access drinking water free from the risks of lead.
In October 2019, New Jersey’s Governor Phillip Murphy announced a statewide plan to address lead exposure from paint, water, and soil that included a goal of fully replacing the state’s LSLs within ten years, the time estimated to find and eliminate all of New Jersey’s LSLs. A week earlier, Congress enacted a law, proposed by Senator Booker, enabling New Jersey and other states to shift capital from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) to the Drinking Water SRF, supplying critical funding.
The plan implemented key recommendations put forward by the task force, and includes the proposal of a $500 million bond to support LSL replacement; remediation of lead-based paint; enabling utilities to use rates paid by customers to support LSL replacement on private property; and improving the state’s inventory of LSLs.
The NJ I-Bank is doing its part by offering loans at 50% principal forgiveness and 50% I-Bank market rate funding.
NEW JERSEY INFRASTRUCTURE BANK ANNOUNCES DETAILS OF ITS UPCOMING GREEN BOND SALE
The New Jersey Infrastructure Bank announced the details of its upcoming bond sale. Subject to market conditions, the Infrastructure Bank plans to sell $34.655 million of tax-exempt Green Bonds by competitive sale on Thursday, April 23, 2020. The bonds will be sold via competitive sale electronically via the PARITY Electronic Bid Submission System of i-Deal LLC.
This is the I-Bank’s 15th series of Green Bonds issued to fund environmental infrastructure projects protecting the State’s water resources. Proceeds of the Aaa/AAA/AAA rated Bonds along with an additional $143 million funding from the State totaling consisting of approximately $129.3 million in interest-free loans and $13.7 million of principal forgiveness will fund 36 projects for 25 borrowers. The projects address needed environmental improvements to both Drinking Water and Clean Water in New Jersey.
A Preliminary Official Statement and Notice of Sale have been released and are available on this site.
The new website is geared toward attracting more investors for NJIB offerings while also continuing its efforts to enhance transparency and disclosure. The site includes more than 3,000 pages of data and documents on the I-Bank's financing program and outstanding portfolio. Read More
The rating is based on the large and diverse pool of 310 borrowers in the program, the overall credit quality of the borrower pool, substantial overcollateralization of loans-to-bonds
(including bond-financed I-Bank Loans and State-financed (i.e., non-bond-financed) Fund Loans) which results in a 53.5% program default tolerance (i.e., the highest percentage of pledged scheduled loan payments that can default through the life of the bonds without impairing full and timely payment of bond debt service), strong legal structure and proactive management.
This article was printed in the February 2018 issue of NJ Municipalities magazine, the official publication of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities (njslom.org.) Please see their guide to article submissions.
New Jersey Infrastructure Bank helping to Improve New Jersey's Drinking Water Quality One Project at a Time
For more information, contact the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank at (609) 219-8600.