Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning testified before the New Jersey Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee in Trenton on Monday, pushing for further action to ensure safe drinking water for Trenton Water Works (TWW) customers in Hopewell and beyond.
Mayors Jeff Martin of Hamilton and Reed Gusciora of Trenton also spoke to the committee, along with the TWW Director Mark Lavenberg and members of his staff.
All the Mayors were in agreement that they welcome the intervention announced last week by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to take over operational control of the facility. Mayor Peters-Manning expressed concern, however, about the financial piece of the problem. Though Trenton City Council has been ordered to approve the funds for upcoming maintenance, she asked what would happen if they refused?
“We cannot let safe drinking water for 225,000 people be at the mercy of the political winds of City Council,” she said, pushing for assurances of operational and financial stability at the utility. The Mayors asked the Committee to create legislation that would ensure Council can’t vote down the financial needs of TWW.
Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, Committee Chair, suggested the creation of a group with representatives from all the affected towns so all voices could be heard, and to help draft effective legislation to address the problems. He also acknowledged that regulations with “teeth” were needed to ensure Council cooperation. “No one should have to worry about water safety,” he said. “If Trenton Water Works were a corporation, the Board of Directors would be looking at lawsuits and/or incarceration for the actions they are not taking.”