Mayors and organizations across the country are coming together united to bring awareness to the national state of our infrastructure. As Mayor of the great city of Bridgeton and President of the New Jersey Urban Mayors’ Association, it is imperative that we look at National Infrastructure Week as a call to action for the investment in the foundation of our nation. The Cambridge Dictionary defines infrastructure as the basic structure of an organization or system, which is necessary for its operation. This includes our massive range of highways, roads, bridges, tunnels, water, internet provision and all other systems that enable our communities to function. Mayors around the country are trying to figure out how to fund projects that will have a critical impact on their communities. These are projects that impact whether businesses want to move or stay in our communities, employ our residents, and projects that impact the health and quality of life of our residents. These projects also determine whether or not we as a nation and in our respective communities will be able to compete in today’s global economy in a sustainable way.

Many of you reading this may ask the question of how critical is the need for investment in our nation’s infrastructure. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in their 2017 infrastructure report card, our nation’s infrastructure averages a “D,” meaning that conditions are “mostly below standard,” exhibiting “significant deterioration,” with a “strong risk of failure.” This year, we stand together with over 400 bi-partisan organizations for the 6th annual National Infrastructure Week as a #Timetobuild. This year, under my leadership the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association is raising awareness around this critical conversation and released recommendations on addressing New Jersey’s water infrastructure crisis:

Recommendations from the NJUMA Water Infrastructure Policy Committee that can help address New Jersey’s water infrastructure crisis and strengthen communities.

The NJUMA promotes policy that will maintain and increase funding for municipalities to properly manage their water systems by providing additional resources and technical assistance for municipalities to manage their systems properly.   

The NJUMA proposes our Governor identify potential state services where congruent policies may be developed and to consider ways to foster collaborative policy development among agencies. The NJUMA welcomes the opportunity to work with the Governor in examining approaches that will enhance the way in which the state and local government can work more efficiently and effectively together.

The NJUMA recommends that the Governor promotes and increases municipalities’ ability to incentivize and keep ownership of their water utility.  Municipalities should be able to use a myriad of approaches to find what works best for them by exploring all options including public private partnerships that can protect the public while providing adequate and efficient services.

The NJUMA supports policy that protects their residents from the effects of water contamination.  We will support awareness around the issue of lead and other contaminants that can have significant consequences to the health and well-being of residents.  We also will look to the Governor’s Office to provide funding and financial assistance to support upgrades to plumbing and pipes in residents’ homes as part of a larger policy agenda that will protect and support healthy communities.

Our partner Jersey Water Works is working to transform New Jersey’s inadequate water infrastructure through sustainable, cost-effective solutions that provide communities with clean water and waterways; healthier, safer neighborhoods; local jobs; flood and climate resilience; and economic growth. Right now, the National League of Cities (NLC) is bringing together mayors from across the country in Washington DC to advocate for federal infrastructure investment this week.  The NLC has also released guiding principles that can serve as recommendations to ‘Rebuild and Reimagine America’s Infrastructure.’ 

When we envision our future, let us ensure that we are reimagining a nation in which the foundation can support the needs of the community and the residents who live there.  

The future won’t wait. Neither can we. It’s #TimeToBuild

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