216 Stelton Road
Piscataway NJ 08854
Clean water is a vague term that can be applied to many different environmental projects. How clean does water have to be to qualify under this term? Water and waterways are ever-changing, so what part of water do we measure to establish "clean". We could look at the siltiness of the water; keeping in mind that different bodies of water naturally carry different amounts of silt. We could look at the amount of chemicals in the water; should we measure these in "parts per million", "parts per billion", at the source or once they have been diluted? We could measure the number of species a watershed supports, or the amount of algae growing in the water. Near industrial sites we could measure the temperature of the water, and its pH level, both of which are vital to the survival of many species. The list could go on and on.
All water is connected through the hydraulic cycle. This is the process by which water evaporates from the surface or ground, and is transported into the atmosphere through warming of the sun. Then the water returns to earth through precipitation. Thus water in one part of the State is linked to water elsewhere. Water flows as well, so pollution up stream might be small, but as the water flows through more and more polluted areas, the concentration can rise quickly.
Water is the most valuable resource we have. With out access to clean water humans can survive only a matter of days. Compare that to food, which in desperate times the body can go almost two weeks without, living off fat and protein stores. According to the United States Geological Survey 96.5% of all the water on the Earth is stored in the oceans. Because this is salt water, it is not fit for human consumption without extensive processing. The remaining 3.5% is fresh water, however only a small portion of fresh water is available for human use. Some of this water is stored in glaciers, or in ground water that is hard to access. Less than 1 % of fresh water is available for human use. It is important to our survival that we protect and clean up our rivers, lakes, and bogs.
New Jersey has many lakes, rivers, wetlands, and a long oceanfront. There are many steps we can take to protect our waterways. The most obvious is to reduce the amount of pollutants dumped into streams and rivers. There are two types of pollution, "point" and "non-point" source. Point source pollution is any waste that is directly emitted from a single, recognizable source. Examples of point source pollution would be a factory smoke-stack, or a pipe leading from an industrial plant. To be labeled as point source pollution, one has to be able to trace to waste back to a specific source. Non-point source pollution is waste that cannot be traced back to a single source. Agricultural run-off and construction run-off are important "non-point" sources of pollution. Most water pollution comes from human land use. Farms leech fertilizers into the water, construction sites erode soil, parking lots and streets lead to run off of motor oil and rubber, and the list goes on. Efforts to preserve open spaces help protect water because open land can act as a sink for water, and as a filter. Forests are incredibly important in the water system because the soil acts a filter, and trees prevent erosion and run-off. Wetlands and marshes act in a similar manner, and can act as a reservoir for flood waters.
Senator Smith has done much over the years to keep the waters of New Jersey clean and safe. In 2004 the Senator sponsored a bill that would allow the state to acquire open spaces through eminent domain, if those lands would protect drinking water. The Senator also fought to establish long term funding for clean water and drought mitigation. In a press release regarding this bill the Senator said, "For too long, funding for clean water projects has been hit or miss in the Garden State, but I assure you that we cannot afford to miss any longer when it come to the quality and safety of our drinking water."
Speaking on a bill package that would include funding of projects, and expanding the powers of eminent domain the Senator said, "Clean water is quite possibly our most important natural resource, and considering the fragility of the ecosystem, and the impact that development and simple general usage have on our water supplies, we have to commit the funds to keep our water pristine. These bills address a vital need in the Garden State, and grant New Jersey the necessary powers and funds to provide clean water for generations to come."
Senator Smith along with Assemblyman McKeon recognize the importance of preserving land to provide clean water. To that end both men have worked hard to conserve regions of the highlands specifically for clean water. In a joint statement the two statesmen said, "The Highlands act as the State's drinking fountain, and we need to provide some form of protection to ensure the quality of our drinking water".
It is clear from these statements that Senator Smith understands the importance of clean, potable water for the State of New Jersey. He will continue to work hard to ensure future generations have access to the same resources we do today. Throughout his career water has been an important issue. To protect ocean water the Senator helped pass the Sludge Management Act, the Ocean Pollution Bounty Act, and the Clean Ocean Education Act. As always, the Senator recognizes that laws without education will not help change people's attitude toward their environment. These laws together help protect our shores from discharging pollutants into the ocean water, and educates our school children on the importance of keeping trash out of our waters. The Stormwater Management and Combined Sewer Overflow Abatement Bond Act of 1989 established a fund to help prevent sewage and storm water run-off from reaching the ocean.
The Senator also worked hard to protect water through open spaces reclamation. Public Law 2002, chapter 76 required the State to develop a master plan for acquiring land that would protect water resources and flood-prone areas. The Highlands Water Protection and Planning act helped create land preservation in an curial area. Public Law 2005, chapter 178 established grants for farmers to do water conservation projects. These laws show how dedicated Senator Smith has been to clean water in the State of New Jersey. Because water is every changing, and with the rapid development in the State, we need to look into the future for new, novel methods of maintaining access to clean water for generations to come.