Joint Meeting of Essex & Union Counties

Public Outreach

Rain or Shine / The Water's Fine - YOU Can Make a Difference

You, as a homeowner or business owner, can and need to be part of a solution to the growing problem of storm water inflow that is being processed by Joint Meeting, the facility that treats your community's wastewater and storm water inflow. We believe that you will conclude that the only solution that makes sense economically and environmentally is one that involves changes that you can make.

What is The Joint Meeting?

The Joint Meeting of Essex and Union Counties owns and operates a wastewater treatment facility, serving more than 600,000 residents in communities in Essex and Union Counties within a 64-square mile area. Member municipalities include East Orange, Hillside, Irvington, Maplewood, Millburn, Newark, Roselle Park, South Orange, Summit, Union, and West Orange. In addition, Joint Meeting serves the City of Elizabeth as a customer municipality.

The Joint Meeting treatment facility located in Elizabeth, receives residential, commercial, and industrial wastewater from the member municipalities as well as storm water flows from the combined sewers in the City of Elizabeth via the Joint Meeting Trunk Sewer Collection System. After a complex process that removes polluting contaminants, clean, clear wastewater is discharged to the Arthur Kill, a channel of water separating New Jersey and Staten Island.

What is The Joint Meeting's history?

The Joint Meeting dates back to the 1890s, when a South Orange municipal official called a "joint meeting" of surrounding municipalities to discuss methods of cooperative disposal of sewage, with six towns joining the effort. At the time, sewage conveyance was the partnership's focus and raw sewage was discharged into the nearest wastewater treatment services, and, in accordance with strict New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) requirements, has modernized the treatment process to protect the environment.

What is the current problem?

The Joint Meeting treats an average of about 60 million gallons per day (MGD) of wastewater and has a capability to treat up to 85 MGD. During wet weather events (rain and other precipitation), the flow can be as high as 185 MGD. This increase in flow results in a real challenge for The Joint Meeting's collection system and treatment plant.

What causes the problem?

A major cause of this problem is the inflow of storm water entering the sanitary sewer system from:

  • Improperly installed sump pumps
  • Improperly installed roof drain connections or roof leaders
  • Building foundations or basement drains
  • Damaged manhole covers
  • Connected catch basins and storm sewers
  • Deteriorating sewers
What are the environmental concerns?

Respect for our environment is a critical concern for The Joint Meeting and the residents it serves. If the local sanitary sewer systems become surcharged due to storm water inflow during wet weather events, the possibility exists that untreated sewage could flow from the manholes onto local streets and eventually enter a storm sewer. This contaminated water would then be discharged into neighboring bodies of water, including the Rahway River, the Elizabeth River and their tributaries.

Backup of wastewater into residential and commercial basements can also occur during wet weather events due to the storm water inflow, resulting in an unhealthy situation for the homeowner or business owner affected.

What are the economic concerns?

A guiding principle of The Joint Meeting has been cost efficiency, and this is reflected in the sewer charges that your municipality sends to you. Currently, The Joint Meeting's per household rates for wastewater treatment are among the lowest in New Jersey, as well as throughout the country, and we want to keep it this way.

According to the mandate imposed by the NJDEP, The Joint Meeting is responsible for treating all water that enters its collection system, regardless of whether it is normal wastewater or from wet weather events. It costs approximately $850 for every million gallons of water that is treated. Keeping costs down is dependent on keeping the volume of water down.

Of even greater economic significance is the possible need for upgrading the treatment plant. If efforts are not made to reduce the amount of water treated during wet weather events, The Joint Meeting will need to upgrade its facility at an estimated cost of $300 million, resulting in higher costs for the municipalities the facility serves.

How can this problem be solved?

Many of the causes of increased storm water inflow can be corrected by you, the homeowner or business owner. For example, a sump pump that is now connected to an interior drain, such as a washbasin, can be redirected to the outside. A roof drain or downspout that is now connected to the sanitary sewer system can be redirected outside.

Other causes of this problem are also being addressed - causes that you can not correct. Damaged or perforated manhole covers will be replaced. Uncapped cleanouts as well as broken or cracked pipe and manholes within the sanitary sewer system will be corrected.

Your help in removing sources of storm water inflow will control operation cost, preserve the life cycle of the facility equipment, protect the environment and preserve the quality of waterways. We know you can make a difference!

Joint Meeting Board

Joint Meeting is governed by a Board of Directors, comprised of representatives from each member municipality. Municipalities represented are: East Orange, Hillside, Irvington, Maplewood, Millburn, Newark, Roselle Park, South Orange, Summit, Union and West Orange. The Executive Director of The Joint Meeting is Samuel T. McGhee.

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