EAST RUTHERFORD – Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said some 2 million residents were impacted by the major storm damage incurred at two water treatment facilities, the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission and Middlesex County Utilities Authority.
PVSC, which serves 1.4 million customers, had its electrical operations underground flooded.
“The whole facility was flooded over,” Martin said.
Fortunately, Martin said, the wastewater was pumped out and the primary processing treatment plant was up and running in a week, which Martin described as “pretty incredible.”
Martin testified today before a Senate Budget Committee hearing into storm damage.
The Middlesex County Utilities Authority lost its pumping mechanism in Edison, and 4 feet of water in Sayreville shirt-circuited operations, the panel was told.
There was some raw sewage going into the Passaic and Raritan rivers, he said.
Martin said there should be a requirement for small water treatment facilities to have generators. While the big ones have generator capacity, the smaller ones don’t because they’re not mandated.
Moving forward, Martin called for “smart rebuilding, with stronger building codes, making sure facilities aren’t prone to flooding. To prevent facilities from becoming submerged, they could elevated or surrounded by floodwalls,” he said.
While 44 of 50 state parks are open, some of the more popular ones like the Liberty State Park, particularly the boardwalk, and the Island Beach State Park, sustained major damage.
It will require millions of dollars to fix, the committee was told.
Overall, Sandy produced 6.2 million cubic yards of waste.
Sen. Paul Sarlo, (D-36), of Wood-Ridge, who is a civil engineer by trade, said that building quality infrastructure will be expensive. When developing the upcoming year’s budget, this needs to be kept in mind, he said.
“When you go cheap on the infrastructure, it comes back to you,” he said.