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Contact: Elaine Makatura 609-292-9289
or Peter Boger 609-633-1496


New Rules Support and Encourage Smart Growth Practices

(02/129) TRENTON - Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced two proposed packages of regulations designed to reduce pollution levels in New Jersey’s water resources caused by stormwater runoff and to help replenish vital ground water supplies throughout the state.

“Sprawl development and poor stormwater management throughout New Jersey for decades have increased pollution in our surface and ground waters and have made our recurring droughts more severe,” said Commissioner Campbell. “These stormwater rules reduce the impacts of development and represent a major, long-overdue step to fundamentally change the way we protect and maintain New Jersey’s water resources.”

The first set of proposals announced today would update the state’s Stormwater Management Rules, which have not been updated since their original adoption in 1983. The rules stress new performance standards for ground water recharge, including both water quality and quantity controls, and promote the integrity of the state’s surface and ground water resources.

The rules would require maintaining 100 percent of the average annual groundwater recharge statewide, a major initiative toward mitigating against future droughts.

“As this year’s drought has shown, recharging our aquifers is crucial to managing New Jersey’s water supply to support growing communities,” said Campbell. “Our groundwater resources are precious and finite and must be maintained through better management of stormwater.”

In addition to the recharge standards, the regulations also stress water quality controls. Statewide, these rules require the implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for new development in order to reduce pollution runoff levels by 80 percent. These rules also provide the special protections needed for the state’s high quality waters, including drinking water reservoirs and streams that provide critical natural resource habitat, by requiring the protection of vegetated areas along waterways designated as Category One (C1) water resources.

Consistent with Governor McGreevey’s Smart Growth initiative, these rules further promote redevelopment in New Jersey’s urban and older suburban areas by waiving the 100 percent recharge requirement in these areas. The rules also promote Smart Growth through the use of low impact site development techniques for stormwater management systems designed to maintain natural vegetation and drainage.

The second set of stormwater control proposals would require municipalities to develop control plans for stormwater runoff resulting from both existing and new development. These municipal stormwater permitting rules address U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) federally-mandated requirements for Phase II stormwater rules, which were published in December 1999. All 50 states are in the process of implementing these new permitting and stormwater management programs.

The permits will be issued for all municipalities; large public complexes such as colleges, prisons, and hospitals; and highway systems operated by counties and other government agencies, such as the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the South Jersey Transportation Authority.

DEP will provide support to municipalities in preparing these new water protection rules and initiatives. As part of that support, a recent amendment to Section 319 of the federal Clean Water Act will allow DEP to allocate some $3 million in federal funding to municipalities on a competitive basis to implement these new management initiatives.

“These regulations recognize that new development is not the only problem---we need to address polluted runoff from areas that already are developed,” added Campbell. “Few people realize the overwhelming impact of everyday litter and materials running off into our stormwater systems. By better managing ordinary things, such as lawn products, pet waste, and the trash from our garbage cans, we can all help create a cleaner, safer water future for New Jersey.”

Through local ordinances and programs, as well as public outreach and education, municipalities would need to take common sense steps to reduce non-point source pollution, such as limiting unnecessary pesticide and fertilizer treatments of lawns, proper disposal of yard and pet waste, retrofitting of storm sewer grates and better municipal maintenance yard management.

DEP developed both sets of stormwater control measures with significant input from regulated communities, including the New Jersey League of Municipalities, the New Jersey County Planners Association, and the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions. Developers, mayors, and environmental groups were also heavily consulted in the rulemaking process.

The proposed rule packages will appear in the January 6, 2003 New Jersey Register and are subject to a 60-day public comment period to afford ample public input on the rules.



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