A Change of Name, Not Mission, for ‘Bank’ That Funds Clean Water Across NJ

Under its new name, the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank will still loan money to stem pollution from sewage treatment, upgrade drinking-water systems

water pollution
It is operating under a new name, but its mission remains the same — helping fund scores of clean-water projects aimed at curbing pollution from sewage-treatment plants and upgrading drinking-water systems across the state.

In the next few weeks, the Legislature is expected to approve a four-bill package that would appropriate state and federal dollars to more than 100 facilities from what was formerly called the Environmental Infrastructure Trust but is now the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank.

This year, the bank is projected to fund $810 million undertaken by local governments and others for an assortment of environmental projects intended to improve water quality and drinking water.

For more than three decades, the entity has provided low-interest loans to municipalities to help finance expensive improvements to wastewater treatment plants, drinking-water supplies, and stormwater systems. Since its inception in 1985, it has provided more than $7 billion in loans to local governments, according to Frank Scangarella, assistant director of the bank.

In fiscal year 2018, the projects run the gamut from improvements to sewage treatment plants, projects to control stormwater runoff, and replacement of lead lines in some municipalities.

“Funding environmental efforts will help ensure that we have responsible and sustainable economic development across the state,’’ said Senate President Steve Sweeney, a sponsor of one of the bills.

The bank is well regarded, but demand to be included in its financing continues to outstrip its resources. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New Jersey needs to spend $17 billion to fix its aging water infrastructure, not including $8 billion to overhaul its drinking water systems.

The legislation is expected to be approved by the state Senate and Assembly before lawmakers recess for their summer break.