New Jersey Wants to Put a Tax on Water
TRENTON, NJ — July 20, 2018
New Jersey state lawmaker Sen. Bob Smith has proposed a tax on tap water to revamp New Jersey's aging pipelines.
He said that water pipelines across the state are old, decaying, and pose a serious health risk and the issue is getting worse.
"There is a big problem and it is a problem that affects your health, your kid's health, and your grandchildren's health," Smith said.
According to his report, about 350,000 homes and businesses in the state are currently serviced by lead pipelines.
The pipes consist of dangerous, toxic metals, and many of them were built in the 19th century, if not earlier. Hoboken, for example, is still running on pipes that were installed in 1857, 1869 and 1897, which is extremely hazardous.
Smith's proposed bill that would impose a 10-cent tax on every 1,000 gallons consumed, which would cost the average New Jersey household about $32 a year and would net the state about $150 million annually.
The money would be used to repair and replace aging infrastructure.
"Flint, Michigan is an example of what happens when you allow your water (system) to deteriorate," Smith said, referring to the city's lead poisoning crisis.
"I think we can begin that public discussion and hopefully get a consensus that the public thinks it is the right thing to do," he said. "You can pay me now or you can pay me a lot later."
Smith estimates it would cost the average household about $32 a year.
Before the bill heads to Gov. Phil Murphy's desk, it has to go through a committee in either the state Senate or Assembly.
Such action has nonetheless prompted considerable criticism from activists and civil society groups on the grounds that it would undermine the basic fabric of the State.