DEP ISSUES STATEWIDE WATER QUALITY REPORT
(07/06) TRENTON - Department of Environmental Protection
Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson today released a comprehensive report
describing the health of New Jersey's waters.
"There is tremendous competition for water resources in New
Jersey, and everyone relies on government to protect the quality
of our supplies," Commissioner Jackson said. "This report
identifies waterways that need improvement and provides a framework
for clean up strategies."
The 2006 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring Assessment Report
released today is the most complete assessment of the state's water
quality, providing detailed information obtained from expanded DEP
For this report, DEP evaluated waters based on their ability to
support seven categories of designated uses: aquatic life, recreation,
drinking water supply, fish consumption, shellfish harvest, industrial
water supply and agricultural water supply. Waters that do not meet
current water quality standards for these specific uses are considered
impaired, or are impacted by some level of pollution. Factors that
impact one water use do not necessarily impair other uses.
While the results are mixed, DEP's monitoring data show that many
waters are not meeting DEP's water quality goals for aquatic life,
fish consumption and freshwater recreational uses. However, most
waters in the state are healthy enough to support drinking water
supply, shellfish harvesting, and ocean beach recreational uses.
The primary pollutants affecting New Jersey's water quality include
toxic contaminants mercury and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)
in fish tissue, phosphorus (a nutrient) in freshwater, and disease-causing
microbes (or pathogens) in our rivers, lakes and coastal waters.
The report also evaluates impacts from stormwater runoff, spills,
improperly treated wastewater, and atmospheric deposition of pollutants
from local, regional and national sources. Non-point source pollution,
referring to contamination occurring from a wide variety of sources
including pets, livestock, stormwater discharges, and fertilizers,
is responsible for a significant portion of the water quality problems
identified in the report.
As evidence of a positive trend, monitoring data show that between
1985 and 2004, nutrient concentration(s) and dissolved oxygen levels
in freshwaters have improved or remained stable throughout the state.
The levels of these water quality indicators are particularly important
in sustaining healthy aquatic life.
The assessment released today contains the list of impaired waters
in the state, sometimes referred to as the "303(d) list,"
named after the section of the Federal Clean Water Act in which
it appears. Federal law mandates that states develop thresholds
and limits to reduce the contaminant load in waterbodies that are
impaired. DEP updates its 303(d) list of impaired waters every two
years and submits the list to the Environmental Protection Agency
In addition to providing water resource managers and the public
with information regarding the health of New Jersey's waters, the
report identifies management strategies for improving overall water
To view the full 2006 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment
Report, visit DEP's web site at: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/wms/bwqsa/generalinfo.html