The Jersey Municipal Municipality Utility Authority plans to remove all lead pipes by 2031, thus the city council may prohibit home sales until lead water lines are replaced.
The council will introduce an amended ordinance Monday that would require property owners to show proof that their lead service lines have been replaced to get a certificate of occupancy, code compliance, and smoke and carbon monoxide detector certificates, which are needed to transfer property ownership.
JCMUA spokesman Phil Swibinski said the agency will cooperate with property owners during the years-long pipe removal process.
Swibinski stated that when cities are prioritized, there would be adequate communication and opportunity to handle exceptional issues like pending home purchases.
Owners who violate the ordinance might face $100 to $1,000 penalties, 90 days in prison, or community service.
The MUA will spend $288 million on federal, state, and county grants to replace 16,000 municipal water lines at no cost to homeowners. Copper pipes will replace lead service line pipes that bring water from the city’s subterranean water mains to houses.
Swibinski said 1,700 residences would have lead service lines removed and 33,000 will be evaluated for lead.
Owners could opt out of the program and replace their lead lines “at their own expense” under the new ordinance.
The replacement must be done “within the time designated in a notice to the owner in conformity with a plan provided by the JCMUA.”
The owner needed a JCMUA permit, inspection report, estimate, and evidence of completion.
Swibinski said the MUA will reimburse property owners up to $10,000 for lead service line removal if they opt out of a service-line replacement.
Ron Simoncini, executive director of the Jersey Official Property Owners’ Association, said this is another city attempt to shift costs on private property owners.
He stated owners “absorbed” city costs like water treatment, waste pickup, and school fees.
“You don’t have a decent alternative here, it’s either you pay now or you take your risk at an uncertain consequence relating to your equity in the home later,” Simoncini added. “Unfortunately, everyone is paying for greater government spending and they don’t have any money.
I don’t think the city has someplace else to get the money, therefore I’m not criticizing the administration for trying to cover these costs. Choices are limited.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed a measure on July 22, 2021, requiring all New Jersey community water systems to replace lead service lines within 10 years. The law gave towns six months to assess pipes and notify residents.
The JCMUA and two government agencies agreed to invest $1 billion to repair the city’s sewage and drinking water systems in January.
Swibinski said the arrangement includes part of the lead line removal program and “the two programs will be tightly linked in order to minimize costs and boost efficiency.”
Swibinski said the bidding process will determine the cost of each service line removal, which “is dependent on multiple criteria, including the number of lines being removed by the contractor, whether there is ongoing construction activity in the area, features of the property, and more.”