In late April, NJDEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson rolled out proposals for significant upgrades to the state’s two main water quality protection rules. For Surface Water Quality Standards, DEP is proposing a new definition for Category One waters which includes designation of about 910 river/stream miles as Category One. This includes a significant portion of the Stony Brook in our area.
For Water Quality Management Planning rules, DEP is proposing, among other things, a requirement that when Wastewater Management Plans are updated as required, they "address septic density in a manner that demonstrates compliance with a 2 mg/L (ppm) nitrate planning target." This has the potential to limit the impact of septic system overload on groundwater. The revised rules would also remove environmentally sensitive lands such as steep slopes from sewer service areas.
These initiatives will go hand-in-hand to protect and improve the quality of drinking water as well as habitat and resources, not only for aquatic organisms, but for any species that rely on clean water and riparian habitats.
But the new proposals are not without their opponents. No sooner were they launched than developers and land speculators started to squawk. Category One streams require a 300-foot buffer. The septic rules will put limits on building density and there will be no more sewer service extended to those who dream of a McMansion clinging to a cliff.
What you can do: The new proposals are scheduled to be published in the New Jersey Register on May 21. You can view the rules at www.nj.gov/dep/rules/. Click on "Notice of rule proposals. Be forewarned: These are huge pdf downloads. Written comments may be submitted until July 20. Submission instructions are on the website. The schedule of public hearings is also available on the website.
Little Steps For Clean Water
The proposed new water quality protection rules are giant steps that our State government is taking. Here are a few little steps that you can take.
|If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact either of the following:|