Mark Becker Bill Sheehan
Bergen SWAN Hackensack Riverkeeper
United Water New Jersey, Bergen Save the Watershed Action Network (SWAN), and Hackensack Riverkeeper have agreed to amicably resolve issues related to a comprehensive review of all company property since the enactment of the Watershed Protection and Moratorium Act, passed by the New Jersey Legislature in 1988. The settlement was approved yesterday by the Watershed Review Board, which consists of the Commissioners of the Board of Public Utilities, Department of Environmental Protection, and the Department of Consumer Affairs.
The settlement calls for United Water to grant conservation easements on approximately 3,100 acres of watershed property to the Department of Environmental Protection, to set aside $1 million to foster the goals of preserving unimproved lands within the watershed, and to restore disturbed watershed property by removing all non-native vegetation.
“This is a landmark agreement that will provide environmental benefits now and for future generations of Bergen County residents,” said Bob Iacullo, President of United Water. “These watershed buffers are a critical link to sound watershed management for the Upper Hackensack, helping to maintain safe drinking water quality for nearly 1 million Bergen and Hudson County residents in New Jersey and in Rockland County, New York. I’m confident that the cooperation displayed by Bergen SWAN and Hackensack Riverkeeper during this process will yield tangible benefits for our customers in the areas of environmental regulation, outreach and education, and water quality.”
“This settlement represents a favorable outcome on issues that have been at the heart of our mission – open space and natural habitat preservation, and careful management of the watershed buffers surrounding our drinking water reservoirs,” said Lori Charkey of Bergen SWAN. “For 21 years, we have fought to meet these goals, and now we can focus more effectively on urgently needed environmental stewardship and education programs for our communities, such as stormwater and invasive species controls. In an era of global warming and drought, it is especially important that the public learn to work with nature to protect our water quality and quantity.”
Captain Bill Sheehan, Hackensack Riverkeeper, said, “This is a settlement that provides a victory for everyone involved. We preserve more than 3,100 acres with a conservation easement, provide $1 million for investment in open space, and we get to restore some of the properties near the reservoirs that have been impaired by homeowners or business owners. In addition, we create a new partnership with United Water to help improve water quality in the Hackensack River. Everyone wins in this settlement.”
About United Water New Jersey
United Water New Jersey provides water services to about 800,000 people in Bergen and Hudson counties in New Jersey. Its parent company, United Water, based in Harrington Park, NJ, provides water and wastewater services to about 7.3 million people in 25 states through the dedication of its 2,600 employees. In addition to owning and operating 21 regulated utilities, United Water operates 240 municipal and industrial systems through public-private partnerships and contract agreements including three of the nation's largest water and wastewater contracts: Jersey City, NJ, Indianapolis, IN and Gary, IN. Founded in 1869, United Water is a subsidiary of SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT.
About Bergen Save The Watershed Action Network (Bergen SWAN)
Bergen SWAN has worked to protect and preserve the forested lands in the Upper Hackensack River Watershed since its formation in 1988. Having lived near the wooded lands along Bergen’s and Rockland’s reservoirs their entire lives, founding members and Co-Directors Mark Becker and Lori Charkey have been steadfast volunteers for numerous programs and regulations that give increased protection to watershed buffers. The organization was instrumental in the drafting and passage of the Watershed Protection Act. Its offices are in Westwood.
About Hackensack RIVERKEEPER
Founded by Captain Bill Sheehan in 1997 and a member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance, Hackensack Riverkeeper is the leading environmental organization dedicated to preserving, protecting and restoring the Hackensack River Watershed. Its mission is carried out through a combination of advocacy, action, education and enforcement strategies – all of are supportive of, and complement each other. The organization’s mission and work reflects the complexity of the watershed: its lower reaches impacted by decades of pollution, and its upper reaches providing potable water to people in New Jersey and New York. As such, Hackensack Riverkeeper is uniquely positioned to address the problems and interactions of the entire watershed.
About United Water
United Water is one of the nation’s leading water and wastewater services providers to over 7 million people in 26 states through the dedication of its 2,600 employees. In addition to owning and operating 20 regulated utilities, United Water operates 240 municipal systems through public-private partnerships and contract agreements, including three of the nation's largest water and wastewater contracts: Indianapolis, IN, Gary, IN and Jersey City, NJ. The company’s affiliate, Utility Service Company, provides water tank asset management services to over 2,000 municipal and industrial clients under long term contracts. Founded in 1869, United Water is a subsidiary of the SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT.
About Suez Environnement
Natural resources are not infinite. Each day, SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT and its subsidiaries deal with the challenge to protect resources by providing innovative solutions to industries and to millions of people. SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT supplies drinking water to 76 million people, provides wastewater treatment services for 44 million people and collects the waste produced by 60 million people. SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT has 65,400 employees and is present on five continents. It is a world leader exclusively dedicated to water supply and waste removal services. In 2008, SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT, a subsidiary in which GDF SUEZ has a 35% stake, achieved sales turnover of €12.4 billion ($17.6 billion USD). To find out more visit