Wanted: Green Infrastructure in Bayonne

Sourced from the Hudson Reporter

Local governments like Bayonne’s have been working for decades to address a problem worsening by the year: too much water running off into surrounding waters through its 23 combined sewage outflows (CSOs). The 18th Century sewage technology, and impermeable paved surfaces, divert water from the ground where it naturally would go to filter into surrounding waterways and into underground sewers.

When it rains, water combines with pesticides, oils, and other pollutants, overflowing into streets and surrounding waterways. In Bergen Point and the city’s East Side neighborhoods, flooding is becoming more commonplace, especially as the city’s increasing population puts added pressure on the sewage system. Stormwater systems are the largest source of contamination of state waters.

Bayonne officials have urged residents in the past to resist tossing garbage and bagged dog waste into the sewers. As a member of “Clean Waterways, Healthy Neighborhoods,” Bayonne is working to alleviate the CSO issue for years.

State steps in

The state is finally taking action by passing legislation that permits municipalities and other entities to establish utilities that could impose fees on parking lots and other impermeable surfaces. The fees will fund improvements to the stormwater management systems based on “a fair and equitable approximation” of the amount of runoff generated from a property.

Opponents are billing the fees as a “rain tax” on local businesses already paying high taxes, but environmental advocates argue the cost of flooding and pollution amount to a much higher cost.

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