Water utility Suez North America said Sept. 2 it plans to spend more than $600 million over four years on new mains, treatment plant improvements and other projects across northern New Jersey.
The total includes $135 million in spending slated for 2020 on 170 projects in 68 municipalities.
“These uniquely challenging times shine a spotlight on the importance of safe and reliable drinking water,” said Vice President and General Manager Alan Weland in a statement. “Now more than ever, people need access to clean water. These investments in infrastructure keep communities safe. At the same time, they help stimulate New Jersey’s economy.”
Last September, state legislators criticized the company for not doing enough to let customers know about problems with their drinking water.
The company said more than $25 million will go toward replacing 2,500 miles of water mains in 17 towns. Those communities are East Rutherford, Paramus, Union City, Hackensack, West New York, Oradell, Carlstadt, Tenafly, New Milford, Oradell, Northvale, Wallington, Leonia, Toms River, South Toms River, Lambertville and Berkeley.
Suez will also spend $29 million to remove 2,400 lead service lines this year in Hudson and Bergen counties.
In addition, the company said it embarked on a five-year, $55 million project to replace the aging water and sewer system acquired from the borough of West Milford in 2018.
Citing World Health Organization statistics, Suez said communities could reap between $2.50 and $5.00 return for every dollar invested in water and sanitation services due to improved health and greater productivity.
Suez also touted its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it committed more than $500,000 to food banks, health care facilities, and nonprofit organizations. “These are our communities, too – we live and work here,” Weland said. “Although our primary job is to ensure that everyone has uninterrupted access to safe, reliable drinking water, we’re equally committed to helping those fighting COVID-19 on the frontlines and also providing assistance to those facing economic difficulties.”
The company provides drinking water, wastewater and waste collection service to 6.7 million people in all 50 states and Canada. Suez North America, a subsidiary of Paris-based Suez, said it generated sales of $1.1 billion in 2018.