DEP REPORT SHOWS MUNICIPALITIES ARE MAKING GOOD PROGRESS
MEETING STORMWATER POLLUTION CONTROL REQUIREMENTS
(08/11) TRENTON - A new Department of Environmental Protection report demonstrates that New Jersey’s municipalities are making good progress toward implementing programs that will reduce the impact of pollutants that are carried into the Garden State’s waterways through stormwater runoff, Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson announced today.
The report shows that 532 of New Jersey’s 559 regulated municipalities, or 95 percent, have adopted stormwater management plans that detail how they will address polluted runoff. A total of 512 municipalities, or 92 percent, have adopted the required stormwater control ordinances that implement the management plans. “The cumulative impacts of stormwater runoff pollution are profound, accounting for 60 percent of the pollution in New Jersey’s waterways,” Commissioner Jackson said. “I commend municipal governments for recognizing the scope of the problem and taking the steps necessary to control the myriad pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides, animal wastes, automotive fluids, roadside litter and excessive sediments that pose today’s biggest threats to the health of our surface waters.”
In addition to municipalities, New Jersey’s municipal stormwater control program regulates all counties as well as many federal, state, and interstate agencies.
The three-year-old program has generated significant benefits, the report shows. More than 83,000 tons of street sweepings have been collected. Nearly 508,000 sewer catch basins have been inspected and more than 39,000 stormwater outfall pipes have been mapped and inspected. In addition, more than 291,000 tons of sediments, trash and debris have been retrieved from storm sewers, preventing these materials from entering the state’s waterways.
Stormwater runoff pollution is ubiquitous and degrades water quality in many ways, yet many people do not realize they are contributing to the problem.
For example, typical lawn fertilizers accelerate algae growth that ultimately reduces oxygen needed by fish and other aquatic life, sedimentation caused by improper construction chokes out aquatic plant habitats, and trash thrown carelessly onto roadways gets carried through storm drains into creeks and rivers.
Many of these problems can be addressed through public education, simple lifestyle changes, and changes to local zoning requirements.
The report shows that most municipalities have adopted pet waste, litter, wildlife-feeding and yard waste ordinances. Moreover, 91 percent of municipalities have distributed educational brochures to their residents, and most municipalities have held community outreach programs.
Since the DEP launched the municipal stormwater regulation program in April 2004, the department has conducted 1,347 compliance inspections designed to assist the regulated entities.
The DEP has also issued a total of $669,000 in penalties for various breaches of municipal permit conditions, including 48 penalty assessments totaling $524,000 in 2007. The DEP assesses penalties when municipalities or other entities fail to meet certain conditions such as cleaning of catch basins and sweeping of streets, submission of required reports, and adoption of specific ordinances that carry out the aims of the program.
“While I firmly believe that municipal governments desire to do the right thing, the DEP stands ready to make certain the program is implemented uniformly throughout all of New Jersey,” Commissioner Jackson said. “All of us must share in the responsibility of solving a problem we all create.”
For a copy of the report, detailed information on compliance, and enforcement information, go to: www.njstormwater.org.