Somerset County Allocates $7.6M for Sewer and Water Projects Supporting 60% of County Residents

American Rescue Plan Grants Will Fund Necessary Upgrades/Repairs and Reduce Costs for Ratepayers in 13 Municipalities

American Rescue Plan Grants Will Fund Necessary Upgrades/Repairs and Reduce Costs for Ratepayers in 13 Municipalities

Post Date: 08/25/2022 2:37 PM

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Somerset County’s Board of Commissioners voted to award $7.6 million to five sewer and water projects affecting 13 municipalities and almost 200,000 County residents, 60 percent of the total population. The allocations are part of the approximately $64 million the County received from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to help residents, communities, and businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These upgrades and repairs to our County’s aging sewer and water systems will make a real difference in the quality of life and health of our residents,” said Deputy Director Melonie Marano, liaison to the Public Works Department. “Whether replacing aging infrastructure, improving the quality of public drinking water, or providing storm resiliency these projects are vital for our residents and municipalities as we come out of COVID and move forward into this century.”

Each of these projects applying for ARP funding from the County were under discussion or previously planned by the municipalities or authorities involved and would have been funded by debt and/or rate increases for sewer customers and taxpayers. By utilizing funds under the “Infrastructure” category of the American Rescue Plan signed by President Biden in 2021, nearly 200,000 residents and businesses will enjoy the benefits of these projects without incurring additional costs.

“Over the years we’ve been able to keep the Miller Lane pump station going with bubble gum, some band aids, a little bit of duct tape. We saw the American Rescue Plan as a terrific opportunity for real repairs, so we engaged with the County,” said Bedminster Mayor Larry Jacobs. “I want to thank Somerset County for working with us and listening to us through this year long project as we worked to get to this point.”

The Miller Lane Pump Station serving residents of Bedminster, Far Hills, and Peapack-Gladstone will be rehabilitated at a cost of $1,470,000 resulting in a more efficient operation, reduced electrical hazards, and lower costs. This pump station not only serves the residents of these communities, but also the Bedminster School, the Matheny School, two libraries, and many businesses.

The Township of Greenbrook will use its $180,000 allocation to fund the final three years of a four-year initiative to perform CCTV inspection of their sewer lines, and perform cleaning as necessary to improve flow along the line. Additionally, the project will identify weaknesses and areas in need of repair the Township will use to plan future projects to prevent potential failures that could impact public health and the environment.

Montgomery will receive $500,000 to connect the Otto Kaufman Community Center to the municipal water system, removing it from well water to provide more consistent and reliable water for its users. The community center hosts more than 50 seniors each weekday, hosts COVID and other vaccine clinics, Recreation Department special events, various non-profit meetings and events, and is home to the local Food Pantry. The well serving the community center has sometimes struggled to maintain pressure during demand, and on several occasions has not met drinking water standards requiring that water fountains be turned off.

The largest funding allocation is for the reconstruction of the Somerset Raritan Valley Sewer Authority’s storm control pump station that supports seven communities including Branchburg, Bridgewater, Hillsborough, Manville, Raritan, Somerville, and Warren. The more than 30-year-old emergency pump station operates when storm events create very high flow conditions. When operating properly the emergency pump station ensures that at high flow all sewage is maintained in the system and does not enter waterways or residential properties. The station is currently located in a flood plain and as a result the generator and electrical components were flooded and failed during Hurricanes Floyd, Irene, and Ida. The $3,800,000 project will relocate the generator above the flood zone and elevate the electronics and sensors above the pump station to prevent future failures, protecting the public health and the environment. Ratepayers will not only save the costs of the rehabilitation project, but the Authority will save on potential future failure expenses and additional insurance costs once the project is complete.

“We’re grateful and very thankful to Somerset County for this grant. This storm control pumping station has been reconstructed three times at about a cost of $3 million, so the relocation of this station above the 500-year flood will definitely have a direct payback as well as protecting the public health and environment,” said Somerset Raritan Valley Sewer Authority Executive Director Ronald Anastasio.

South Bound Brook is receiving $1,673,730 for a borough-wide rehabilitation program of its more than 10 miles of aging sewer lines, including CCTV inspection, sewer main cleaning, joint grouting, and manhole rehabilitation. The project will significantly reduce ground and storm water infiltration that can impact sewer efficiency and increase flow to the treatment plant, ultimately reducing costs for the ratepayers.

The American Rescue Plan was passed by the Congress and signed by President Biden in 2021 to assist local communities in recovering from the COVID pandemic. While there are required categories for use of the funds, local governments like Somerset County have been given the freedom to determine the most effective and efficient ways to spend the funds.

In addition to these sewer and water infrastructure projects, Somerset County has so far used ARP funds for projects including but not limited to: supplementing emergency rental funds that kept 900 families in their homes; supporting tourism campaigns such as Sip & See and next summer’s Downtown Somerville Arts Installations in support of our hospitality industry; partnering with the Greater Somerset County YMCA to create Camp S.O.A.R. at Colonial Park to help young residents experience the outdoors; providing emergency funding for local food banks in three communities for those hardest hit economically by COVID; and more projects to stimulate a strong economic rebound and support vulnerable communities.

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