New Jersey Future today announced that three cities – Gloucester City, Jersey City, and Perth Amboy – have been selected by the Build It Green (BIG) Competition to receive technical assistance and engineering support services. The BIG Competition, launched in partnership with re:focus partners and with the generous support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s New Jersey Health Initiative, will catalyze the design and implementation of integrated, creative projects that reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs) while generating multiple local environmental and health benefits. For example, roads can be repaved with porous pavement when installing underground broadband infrastructure to improve the economic prospects of local residents and businesses and simultaneously reduce surface water runoff.
New Jersey’s water infrastructure requires massive upgrades statewide, but nowhere is the problem more acute than in those communities with antiquated combined-sewer systems and economically distressed populations. The BIG Competition is an opportunity to empower these communities to design and finance projects that solve multiple problems at once, and that will act as replicable models for the rest of the state, positioning New Jersey as a national leader in implementing innovative approaches.
Gloucester City, Jersey City and Perth Amboy will receive customized technical assistance to design these CSO solutions. They will also receive engineering services (valued at approximately $17,000 per selected community) to support the preparation of project implementation funding applications for submission following the BIG technical assistance process.
“Gloucester City is committed to the installation of green infrastructure to manage stormwater, provide good local jobs, and make our neighborhoods healthier and more beautiful,” said Mayor William James. “We look forward to this project serving as a model for future installations city-wide.”
“Jersey City will develop an integrated, innovative project to take on storm surge flooding, combined sewer overflows, and historic industrial contamination,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. “These are issues that cross neighborhoods and affect some of the city’s most vulnerable residents, and we are honored to be selected for this unique opportunity.”
“Perth Amboy is proactive about environment and urban infrastructure initiatives. Working with the Re:focus team will reinforce these efforts to design a project that protects the Raritan River. These initiatives maintain and aid our local community in its preservation, ” said Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz.
“The Dodge Foundation’s ongoing commitment to preserving and strengthening New Jersey’s critical environmental assets, including its water, means we are eager to help our cities and towns do all they can to reduce sewer overflows in innovative, cost-effective ways,” said Margaret Waldock, director of the foundation’s environment programs. “We look forward to taking advantage of the lessons other regions of the country have learned about managing stormwater, and advancing their implementation here.”
“It was gratifying to see the enthusiastic new thinking that went into all the BIG Competition applications,” said Bob Atkins, director of New Jersey Health Initiatives. “With such a diverse set of cities awarded, these design projects will provide all New Jersey communities with a lesson plan for how they can implement similar initiatives, resulting in reduced stormwater runoff and flooding, leaving communities healthier and waterways cleaner and safer. We are eager to see these projects move from concept to reality.”
“For New Jersey’s cities, many of which have limited resources, investing in integrated solutions that address multiple challenges will bring the greatest return for both residents and the bottom line,” said New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach.
“The BIG Competition takes the approach that innovative thinking can lead to sustainable, cost-effective solutions for these large-scale water infrastructure problems – solutions that create exponential health and economic benefits to the communities where they are implemented,” said re:focus Chief Executive Officer Shalini Vajjhala.
An evaluation committee reviewed all applications submitted to the BIG Competition. Committee members included individuals from academic institutions, foundations, private-sector associations, former state and federal government officials and others. More information is available on the BIG Competition web page.