NJ TO ADOPT RULE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENTS OF SEPTIC
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today adopted a portion
of the Water Quality and Watershed Management rules requiring new development
using septic systems to undergo the same environmental assessments as
proposed new sewer service areas.
"Applying the water quality and water quantity protection guidelines
in Governor Whitman's Executive
Order 109 to septic development will have a significant effect on
the state's water resources. By requiring assessments for developments
using septic systems, we are greatly increasing protection of water quality,
and at the same time, supporting development in areas that are not environmentally
sensitive or agricultural production areas of the state," said DEP Commissioner
The rule, known as Subchapter 6 of the Water Quality and Watershed
Management Rules, will be published in the NJ Register Feb. 20 and
becomes effective March 20.
"This rule levels the playing field for protection of the state's water
resources by requiring that comprehensive environmental assessments apply
to all types of development," said Shinn.
The rule applies to residential developments of six or more units and
commercial development discharging 2,000 gallons of wastewater or more
per day into the ground.
The required environmental assessments, which are part of an applicant's
new or amended wastewater management plan, examine the potential impacts
and alternatives, and include evaluations of water use, riparian buffer
impacts, and nonpoint source pollution.
The executive directors of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association
and Upper Raritan Watershed Association, George Hawkins and Dave Pfeifer,
issued the following statement in support of the rule.
"In our regions, a significant amount of development, particularly in
environmentally sensitive and rural areas, is on septic systems. We also
know that septic discharges may have significant consequence to the quality
of our water, particularly ground water -which is often the source of
drinking water in these same communities. We, therefore, strongly support
the approach of this septic system rule to subject these decisions to
a thorough assessment of their consequences to water quality and supply.
This approach will be strengthened, however, by the adoption of a comprehensive
rule that ties all wastewater infrastructure decisions to environmental
assessments and clearly protective standards."
"Adopting provisions that will ensure environmental assessment of the
impacts of new development, regardless of the wastewater management option
selected, represents progress in the watershed approach to managing our
precious water resources," said Ella Filippone, executive director of
the Passaic River Coalition.
"Development results in a number of secondary and cumulative impacts.
This is true whether the development uses sewers or septics for wastewater
management. It is appropriate to assess the water resources impacts of
all new development," said Carleton Montgomery, executive director of
the Pinelands Preservation Alliance.
The remainder of the Water Quality and Watershed Management Rules and
public comments are being reviewed by DEP. Under the Governor's direction
last fall to strengthen the proposed rule in response to initial public
comments, a series of stakeholder and public meetings were held over the
past few months. DEP expects to adopt the remainder of the rule and propose
revisions later this year.