Ella F. Filippone

The Passaic River Basin is the most densely populated area in the State of New Jersey. It is composed of eight counties and 118 municipalities totally 2.5 million people. While the Passaic is only 81 miles long, its eight major tributaries contribute over 1000 river miles to the watershed. In 1969, the Passaic River was recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as one of the two most polluted rivers in the United States.

Ella F. Filippone has been the Executive Director of the Passaic River Coalition for the past 38 years. She has been involved in the establishment of laws, rules, and policies on open space preservation and water resources management, and is recognized as the foremost expert on issues related to water quality/quantity within the Passaic River Watershed. She has extensive experience in government and management, serves on several councils and advisory boards on the local and state level, and is frequently called upon to make presentations at national conferences. She is responsible for the overall operations of the Passaic River Coalition.

During her tenure, Ella has participated in every federal and state initiative that would aid in cleaning up pollution in the Passaic. When the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 was adopted by Congress, Ella argued that the Corps’ proposed reservoir at Millington, New Jersey would increase pollution, and the Corps was forced to abandon the project. Ella has been a strong advocate for ground water management, having petitioned EPA to have the Buried Valley Aquifer Systems of the central Passaic River Basin designated as a “soul source” aquifer in 1980. Her work on ground water has initiated several new programs within the state, dealing with underground storage tanks, wellhead protection and land acquisition. In the 1990s, Ella discovered $10 million in an old bond act and shepherded it through the legislature so that New Jersey could initiate with New York State, the purchase of 17,000 acres in the high headwaters of the Passaic, and a critical water supply resource.