The first Earth Day in 1970 led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts. Forty-five years later, the Clean Water Act is finally being enforced in New Jersey.
On March 12, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued final permits to the 25 cities and utilities that operate combined-sewer systems (CSSs), a first step to updating decrepit infrastructure, minimizing flooding and keeping raw sewage from reaching public waterways. The new permits require affected towns and sewer treatment authorities to create and adopt plans to address the problems triggered by what are known as combined sewer overflows (CSOs). These overflows occur when a system that handles both stormwater and sewage is overwhelmed by rain or snowmelt, causing untreated sewage to be discharged into local waterways, and sometimes into streets and basements.
Through the Urban Water Solutions Initiative, a number of thought leaders and decision makers throughout the state are working to facilitate best-practice solutions for New Jersey’s aging water infrastructure and combined sewer overflows that spur city revitalization. The group’s programmatic objectives and recommendations for state and federal action and are outlined in its 2015 Objectives.
This year, on Earth Day – a day usually dedicated to concern for the natural environment – the Urban Water Solutions Initiative took to social media to raise awareness of the impact our antiquated infrastructure has on our cities as well as our waterways. Using the hashtags
#UnderTheEarthDay and #NJWater, people and organizations shared photos and tidbits about New Jersey’s urban water infrastructure issues, as well as solutions such as green infrastructure, green roofs and more!
See below for the posts and photos. Continue the conversation with us by posting to Twitter or Instagram using #NJwater!