(05/54) TRENTON -- Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today
released the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)'s regulatory
standards for the implementation of the Highlands Water Protection
and Planning Act. The new regulations, which involve issues including
septic density and the permit application review process, take
"The tough environmental rules released today are critical
for the protection of New Jersey's Highlands region," said
Commissioner Campbell. "These rules also begin a close partnership
with the Highlands Council to ensure that the final regulations
work in concert with the regional master plan."
The Highlands Act prescribes regulatory standards for the Preservation
Area including the protection of open waters and buffers, rare,
threatened and endangered species habitat, exemptions, impervious
coverage limits and the prohibition of new public water systems.
The legislation directs DEP to establish the standards announced
The rules establish standards regarding the following:
- Permit Review: The regulations consolidate the review processes
required for projects in the Highlands that require multiple
permits. DEP will provide the Highlands Council copies of all
applications, notify the public of applications and seek public
- Septic Systems: The rules protect existing water quality
by establishing septic density requirements based on differences
in groundwater quality in heavily forested and disturbed areas.
- Historic and Archaeological Resources: The rules establish
procedures for the identification and protection of historic
and archaeological resources.
- Unique and Irreplaceable Resources: The rules will help protect
parks, reserves vernal habitats and New Jersey Natural Heritage
Program-identified ecological communities by regulating activities
that impact the communities.
DEP will accept comments regarding its Highlands rules from the
Departments of Community Affairs, Agriculture, Transportation
and the Highlands Council for a 45-day period prior to rule proposal.
DEP will then revise and propose the immediately effective regulations.
The final regulatory standards must be adopted within one year.
The New Jersey Highlands is a 1,250-square-mile area in the northwest
part of the State, stretching from Phillipsburg in the southwest
to Ringwood in the northeast. It lies within portions of seven
counties and 87 municipalities. Sixty-four percent of New Jersey
residents, about 5.4 million people, receive their water from
the Highlands. In addition, the forests and wetlands of the Highlands
are important habitat for many species of reptiles, amphibians,
mammals and resident and migrating birds.