NJ I-Bank and NJDEP Helping to Improve New Jersey's Infrastructure, One Project at a Time

The New Jersey Infrastructure Bank was one of the organizational members present at the 2019 Annual Jersey Water Works Conference held on Friday, December 13th at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick. The purpose of the conference was to gather and impart information to improve New Jersey's Water Infrastructure.   

The program began with coLAB Arts, an organization that connects artists, advocates and communities to water through the arts. The presentation  was led by John Keller, Director of Education and Outreach of coLAB Arts, and focused on a joint project with the Lower Raritan Watershed called #LookForTheRiver, a campaign to create art projects and programs that inspire communities to produce more livable, sustainable, and exciting environments through art.  

Lead in the City of Newark's drinking water has been a trending issue in the news as residents have been forced to use temporary filters and drink bottled water. Kareem Adeem, Acting Director of the City's Department of Water and Sewer Utilities described the challenges of his work replacing drinking water pipes throughout the city. 

A morning panel discussed water infrastructure issues facing the State, including the Water Quality Accountability Act, climate change, aging infrastructure, lead in drinking water and combined sewer overflows. The discussion was monitored by Ana Baptista, Assistant Professor of Professional Practice and Chair of Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management Program at the New School. Professor Baptista led a discussion on how New Jersey's state government, local communities and utilities can best respond to each of these issues. The panelists included Richard Calbi, Director of Operations for Ridgewood Water; Melissa Elliot, Director of Strategic Communication Services at Raftelis; Jennifer Gonzalez, Director of Environmental Services/Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Hoboken; and Dan Kennedy, Director of Environmental & Utility Operations at the Utility & Transportation Contractors Association of New Jersey. 

The conference keynote speaker, George Hawkins, Esq., Founder and President of Moonshot LLC and Moonshot Missions, is known nationally, in part for his work as General Manager at DC Water. He began by drinking a glass of water and emphasizing that "Every person and organism on earth needs clean water to live, and every job relies on water services." As water infrastructure ages and public funds become scarce, he noted, the ability to deliver safe drinking water and protect local waterways has become more expensive and challenging. Mr. Hawkins  gave examples of the challenges he faced while working for DC Water, and how he built trust between DC Water and the community with an honest and open approach while addressing the public and DC Water's employees.  

The program ended with three breakout sessions on green infrastructure, lead in water, and equitable water initiatives in Camden. By the close of the conference, the atmosphere was charged with enthusiasm and new connections forged. Attendees looked forward to implementing opportunities to make a real difference in the way New Jersey's cities and towns manage their water, confirmation that the conference was already a success.  

Picture: George Hawkins, Esq., Founder and President of Moonshot LLC and Moonshot Missions, Keynote speaker

For more information, contact the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank at (609) 219-8600.

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