February 19, 2017 at 3:00 AM
Smart companies (and states) make long-range plans based on the most accurate data available. But New Jersey’s real estate and home-building industries, the state’s water utilities and, indeed, any N.J. company that depends on a reliable water supply can’t do that right now. The Statewide Water Supply Plan — a document that details where the water for New Jersey’s future is and is not — has not been updated since 1996, despite a state statute requiring that an updated report be provided every five years.
Certainly, the Department of Environmental Protection has been working on an update. But, as Rutgers professor and former DEP official Daniel J. Van Abs said in a Feb. 7 column for NJSpotlight, a new draft plan was “last seen” in 2012, when it was presented to the Water Supply Advisory Council — a panel of water company officials, academic scientists and various nonprofits that advises the DEP on water issues. Since then, nothing has happened.
The DEP says it is still collecting data, but Van Abs and others believe Gov. Chris Christie is sitting on the report because the news is not likely to be good. Their theory is that an updated report could stymie development in the state, and the Christie administration does not want to be bound by it.