A new program, called SAIL (Statewide Assistance Infrastructure Loan), has been set up to provide low-interest bridge loans that enable infrastructure projects to move forward in advance of disaster relief from the federal government.
One of the first recipients of the program is the Middlesex County Utilities Authority, which was awarded an $88 million loan so it could finally begin work on a 1,700-foot flood wall to protect the utility’s Sayreville pump station.
That station suffered some of the most severe damage of 2012’s Superstorm Sandy; when it failed, it dumped weeks of sewage into Raritan Bay, severely compromising drinking water. The storm caused an estimated $2.6 billion in damages to wastewater and drinking-water infrastructure statewide.
The entire resiliency project, which extends to fortifying the MCUA’s Edison pump station, is expected to cost $123 million. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has committed $95 million to the project. SAIL is a partnership project between the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust and the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The 1,700-foot wall will stand 21 feet above sea level, which is expected to protect against a 1-in-500-year flood.