(March 26, 2021) When it rains in Newark, the sewer system overflows into nearby waterways and localized flooding can have a combination of sewage and stormwater. This is known as a combined sewer overflow (CSO). Newark, one of 25 CSO permittees, submitted a Long Term Control Plan proposing large water infrastructure projects to reduce and/or eliminate CSOs. As of October 2020, the plan is under review by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and will be finalized in 2021.

New Jersey’s cities face a multi-billion-dollar price tag to fix combined sewer systems that dump more then 23 billion gallons of raw sewage into our waterways every year. The cost of not fixing them will be even higher. Antiquated sewer systems and their combined sewer overflows can greatly limit growth potential, quality of life, and the environmental quality of New Jersey’s cities.

For these reasons, the Sewage-Free Streets and Rivers campaign, a coalition of community organizations including La Casa de Don Pedro, is advocating for the Long Term Control Plans to include equitable solutions to combined sewer overflows. The Long Term Control Plans detail large wastewater infrastructure projects that will impact communities for decades and will be paid for primarily by taxpayers. Comments by the coalition focus on water quality, environmental justice, green infrastructure, public participation, and climate change.

Rommie Cardenas, Community Engagement Specialist at La Casa, states “An important point we wanted to get across through our recommendations to the NJDEP is that the cost of this infrastructure project should not fall solely in the laps of communities near the Passaic River. The taxpayer funding that this project needs should be approached in an equitable manner which includes surrounding towns that also contribute to the sewage and toxins that flow into our communities.”

La Casa de Don Pedro is proud to join in the fight for environmental justice to achieve a cleaner, safer world for Newarkers and New Jerseyans alike. 

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