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

Joseph Cryan, Executive Director of the Middlesex County Utilities Authority (MCUA) opened a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 22, 2021, by observing that the gray and rainy weather was appropriate to commemorate the rehabilitation of a pump station devastated by the aftereffects of Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The Sayreville Pump Station (SPS), it was noted often, is the largest pump station in New Jersey. Pumping approximately 80 million gallons per day (mgd) of dry weather sanitary flow, the SPS services 30 municipalities in Middlesex County and portions of Somerset and Union counties at its Central Treatment Plant, equating to approximately 700,000 people. At the time of the storm, the SPS was flooded and lost power for 10 days. The station was inundated with river water, raw sewage, salt water, silts, material and debris from the storm surge to an elevation approximately four feet above ground for several hours. 

Many of the speakers at the ceremony described the devastation incurred by the storm and praised the heroic efforts of those individuals in charge at the time who exhibited swift and decisive action with Executive Director Cryan specifically mentioning the number of wise decisions made under pressure and time constraints. John Wiley, MCUA Board Chair, noted that many of the employees and contractors worked together under grueling conditions without much sleep often working 14-hour days or longer. Ronald G. Rios, Director of the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners, described the collaboration between contractors and engineers, remarking on the ease and trust with which everyone worked together to achieve a common goal.  

Executive Director Cryan introduced David Zimmer, Executive Director of the NJ Infrastructure Bank (I-Bank), stating that Federal, State, and County agencies worked with a united vision of a long-term and hard-won goal, not least of which included the I-Bank and NJ DEP's joint financing program, the NJ Water Bank. 

Mr. Zimmer reiterated the amount of committed teamwork it took for everyone involved to successfully complete this project including the NJ State Police's Office of Emergency Management that acted as the conduit for the project's large FEMA grant. He singled out MCUA as the Water Bank Program's largest borrower and one of the first water systems in the State to take advantage of the Water Bank's State Assistance Infrastructure Loan (SAIL) program for disaster financing. MCUA borrowed $92 million in short-term SAIL funds to complete the design and construction of the SPS, a significant-sized loan even by the Water Bank's standards. In his discussion of specific savings benefits, Mr. Zimmer noted that of the project's total cost, MCUA received more than $70 million from the federal government in the form of FEMA grant funds to repay a majority of the SAIL loan, and of the remaining $21.8 million in costs, MCUA was saving over $6 million from the NJ Water Bank's low-cost long-term loans. 

Other speakers provided anecdotal evidence of the dedication, teamwork, and cooperation that took place to complete the project. Roly Acosta, President of NE Remsco, a contractor on the project, replaced a valve on the pipeline his father had originally installed in 1977. Mr. Acosta shared that when he called his father to inform him of the work, his father responded, "It still looks good, right?" spoken by a man who truly takes pride in his work. USEPA's Chris D'Onofrio recounted an entertaining story about how he arrived at the scene to help as opposed to enforcing regulations and recruited divers to submerge 30 feet into effluent to install a sluice gate that was critical to stopping the station's raw sewage from flowing into the Raritan River. 
The ceremonial ribbon-cutting took place after the presentation of a plaque commemorating the MCUA and the restoration of the Sayreville Pump Station. The gray and rainy day became the backdrop for a proud and triumphant moment for the MCUA and the opportunity for many to reminisce and re-bond over a shared experience which ended in success. 

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

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TAGS: Middlesex County UA Ribbon Cutting Sayreville Pump Station