Environmental and Public Health Information of the Underserved Community

What are the local environmental/public health issues that the project seeks to address?

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Perth Amboy is a highly urbanized and industrial city with land coverage that is largely impervious. Large impervious areas in this low-income and highly urbanized community has led to higher stormwater runoff volumes. In cities such as Perth Amboy, with combined stormwater and sanitary sewer systems, large storm events consistently overwhelm the treatment capacity at the sewer treatment plants.  The inadequacy of the system’s ability to treat the wastewater results in the dumping of raw sewage into the community’s waterways, in this case, the Raritan Bay.  This project seeks to address the inability of the City to test the water near the newly reconstructed waterfront for contaminants and to further public outreach efforts to educate the larger Spanish-speaking population on how to maintain and interact with the beach in a way that….

What are the local environmental/public health issues results the project seeks to achieve?

The project seeks to provide Perth Amboy with a way to

Describe the underserved community the applicant is directly working with to address the issues.

New Jersey is considered one of the wealthiest states in our country, home to four of the wealthiest counties in our nation.  Within our state borders exists a dichotomy that does not reflect the aforementioned wealth.  One of the areas of stark contrast exists in the City of Perth Amboy.  The City of Perth Amboy is a heavily urbanized area which is approximately 80% Latino.  Many of which do not speak English well.  Perth Amboy was ranked the 15th poorest city in New Jersey. 

How the underserved community is disproportionally impacted by environmental harms and risks;

Perth Amboy is surrounded by industrial plants and petroleum terminals which have contributed heavily to the environmental degradation of the waterways of the community.  The City government is doing its best to revitalize the area for all income levels within the city limits however, there are budgetary restrictions that limit the City’s ability to adequately solve the myriad of issues that Perth Amboy is plagued with.  The City is currently dealing with the failure of 16 combined sewer overflows (CSOs) draining to the Arthur Kill.  CSO’s often result in exposure to polluted water causing waterborne infections some of which may include: hepatitis, gastroenteritis, as well as skin, wound, respiratory and ear infections. Although generally, waterborne diseases result from ingesting contaminated water, they may also be contracted through inhalation of water vapors, eating contaminated fish and shellfish, and swimming. The most common symptoms are diarrhea and nausea.  According to a report performed by the EPA, 5 percent of beach closures are due to CSO’s and Perth Amboy ranks 7th in New Jersey for having the highest amount of CSOs within their community.  As it stands, the beaches and waterfront properties which the CSOs drain to do not have methods in place to test the waters for environmentally hazardous chemicals, fecal coliform, etc.  This is especially an issue because the citizens of Perth Amboy use the waterway for subsistence fishing which disproportionately affects lower class citizens. 

According to a Community Health Needs Assessment performed by the Raritan Bay Medical Center, Perth Amboy has a Community Health Index (CHI) of 5 which is (ranking is from 1-552 with 1 being the lowest).  CHI includes variables related to poverty, single-parent households with children, population speaking a language other than English at home, non?White population, population over age 65, unemployed population, population with less than grade 9 education, rental households, charity/self?pay discharges and Medicaid inpatient discharges. 

 

How the underserved community will benefit from the projects intended results

The underserved community currently does not have any public pools or beach property to use during the summer months.  This project will pull together collaborators which will create a way for the community to use the waterfront and ensure that it is safe while doing so.  Secondly, this project will further green infrastructure efforts in order to combat the CSO issue.  This will not only add to the City’s resiliency efforts outlined in their Master Plan, but it will increase revenue and provide jobs for the citizens of Perth Amboy.  Studies have shown that areas in which green infrastructure has been implemented have increased desirability, property value, tax base, and jobs.  Activities for youth to help with the implementation process will also help develop urban youth socially by inspiring them to be committed to civic engagement, environmental stewardship, and provide a necessary positive outlet within their community.