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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 12, 2006

Contact: Darlene Yuhas (609) 984-1795
Elaine Makatura (609) 292-2994

DEP WINS LEGAL CHALLENGE TO STORMWATER REGULATIONS

(06/26) TRENTON -- Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson today applauded a New Jersey appeals court ruling that upheld the DEP's authority to adopt comprehensive stormwater rules requiring 300-foot buffers to protect high-quality waters from the dangers of development.

"The court ruling represents a tremendous victory for New Jersey in our ongoing fight to protect the quality and quantity of our water resources. Clean, safe and abundant drinking water supplies are something we cannot afford to take for granted," Commissioner Jackson said. "New Jersey's stormwater rules are considered the nation's most protective largely because they require 300-foot vegetated buffers along Category One waterways to help filter pollutants and safeguard the quality of these waters."

In the 24-page decision released today by the Appellate Division of New Jersey Superior Court, the three-judge panel rejected the New Jersey Builders Association's argument the DEP lacked the statutory authority to promulgate the stormwater rules, and also noted that the association "mischaracterized these buffers as 'no build zones.'"

"This ruling by the Appellate Division affirms DEP's broad authority to protect water quality in New Jersey, as well as the need to preserve the remaining pristine waters throughout the state for future generations," said Attorney General Zulima V. Farber. "The court recognized the close correlation between water quality and the way that land is used along the banks of our sensitive waterways."

The DEP has applied Category One status, the state's highest level of water protection, to 10,219 acres of reservoirs and 3,855 river miles.

"It's particularly gratifying that the court has acknowledged that without these tough stormwater regulations, developers and industry would continue building right on top of sensitive streams and reservoirs that provide drinking water to millions of our residents," Commissioner Jackson said.

The DEP adopted the new stormwater management rules in February 2004 - the first major update of the regulations in 20 years. Soon after the regulations were adopted, the New Jersey Builders Association took legal action.

"Protecting the quality and quantity of our water supplies not only is essential to our environment and our quality of life, but also is critical to the stability of our economy," Commissioner Jackson said.

 

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