Public Outreach

Plant Tours Water Infrastructure Awareness Keeping Sewer Rates Low F.R.O.G. Rain or Shine Contact


The Joint Meeting of Essex and Union Counties, in conjunction with the New Jersey Water Environment Association's Collection Systems Committee would like to make the general public and your municipal officials more aware and informed of general collection system and wastewater treatment plant topics and issues. Please browse through the following to obtain information on such important issues as fats, roots, oils, grease (frog) awareness, infiltration/inflow (I/I) reduction, combined sewer overflow (CSO) regulations and water infrastructure awareness, all of which impact municipal budgets, and in turn, your lifestyle.

Water Infrastructure Awareness
Water is life! It is essential to our health, our economy, our environment. It supports our quality of life.
mother-and-childSeventy percent of earth is covered by water, but only one percent is accessible freshwater. Though water is a renewable resource, clean, safe water is crucial for human health. Drinking water treatment virtually eliminated waterborne diseases and increased life expectancy in the U.S. by 30 years. The EPA sets standards for eighty water contaminants.
In America, we've come to expect clean water.
faucetWe flush our toilets and drain our sinks, showers, bath tubs and dishwashers everyday. There are 54,000 drinking water systems and 800,000 miles of pipes provided to 250 million Americans. There are 16,000 water treatment systems and 800,000 miles of sewer line processed from 160 million Americans.
Water Infrastructure & Economic Growth
fishClean Water Supports:

  • $50 billion per year recreation industry
  • $300 billion in coastal tourism
  • $45 billion in commercial seafood, fishing, and U.S. agriculture
  • Development depends on clean water and wastewater treatment
  • America's public water systems impact nearly every sector of the economy!
Wastewater Infrastructure & the Environment
fishingEach year, 50 million tons of pollutants are prevented from reaching America's coasts, lakes and waterways due to wastewater treatment plants. A total of 7 million dry tons of biosolids are recycled yearly. Once treated, our wastewater returns to these sources to be used over and over again.

Infrastructure includes...

  • Wetlands
  • Retention Ponds
  • "Green" Systems
So what's the problem?
reinvestmentAmerica's Infrastructure Systems Needs Attention

In 10 years, water pollution levels may deteriorate to those observed in the 1970s if we do not invest in our infrastructure. Water and wastewater pipes and plants will soon need to be replaced, and new water and wastewater treatment plants will be required. It's a big task, takes short-term and long-range planning, and takes reinvestment.

Currently, the Federal Government provides financial assistance, has regulatory requirements, and enforces Federal Water Laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Most funding for drinking water and wastewater services comes from local ratepayers and taxpayers.
How can you help?
  • Be informed of the water and wastewater needs of your community
  • Support reinvestments as utility rates rise
  • Participate in water related programs available in your community
  • Speak up and out about reinvesting
  • Take a tour of your local utilities
  • Do not take water for granted
Rain or Shine / The Water's Fine - YOU Can Make a Difference
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.
Fight-the-FatF.R.O.G. Educational Outreach Program

This series of user-friendly, interactive games and puzzles, geared towards students, parents and educators in the JMEUC school districts, as well as to the general public, itself, is in the process of being developed at the present time.

Soon, you will learn how to defeat the villainous "Sir Charge" and his Loyal Knights of the Round Cover (Sir "Fats" Gerald, Sir "Root"olph, Sir "Oil"off, and Sir "Grease"wold) who reside underground in the pipedom of Clogalot.

Please check back to this site in the near future. In the meantime, make sure you "Fight the Fat."

F.R.O.G. Awareness Survey

Public Advisory
Public Advisory
Please Do Not Flush Disposable Wipes
Down the Toilet

Members of the public are advised to follow the Centers for Disease Control recommendations regarding cleaning surfaces with disinfecting wipes to reduce the spread of COVID-19.   Members of the public, however, are reminded NOT to flush these disinfecting wipes, paper towels and/or similar items down the toilet.   They must be disposed of properly by placing them in trash cans.  Flushing these products down toilets will lead to clogs in the sewers and cause backups and overflows at wastewater treatment facilities, including the Joint Meeting of Essex and Union Counties, thereby creating an additional public health risk in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Even wipes labeled “flushable” should NOT be flushed down the toilet. They too can clog pipes and interfere with sewage collection and treatment.  Wipes, including “flushable” wipes, and paper towels do not break down like toilet paper.  As such, please dispose of these products properly so as to allow the Joint Meeting of Essex and Union Counties and its dedicated sewer operators to continue to protect the health and safety of the communities during this crisis by operating the system properly.

We appreciate your cooperation.

Hanifa Z. Johnson
Executive Director

Contact Us

Address: 500 South First Street, Elizabeth, New Jersey 07202
Phone: (908)-353-1313 | Fax: (908)-353-7925
Need directions? Click here.