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August 22, 2003

Contact: Amy Cradic
(609) 984-1795

DEP Establishes Stricter Pollution Limits to Safeguard New Jersey's Waterways

(03/117) TRENTON - Moving forward with an accelerated plan to reduce pollution in New Jersey's streams and rivers with impaired water quality, state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced the adoption of new, stricter limits on the amount of fecal coliform going into more than 300 miles of waterway in the state.

"Controlling the amount of pollutants like fecal coliform that enter New Jersey's rivers and streams advances the McGreevey Administration's larger efforts to protect and improve the quality of the state's precious water resources," said DEP Commissioner Campbell. "Our next step is to track down and identify the sources of fecal coliform contamination in the targeted waterbodies so that we can effectively control, reduce or eliminate the pollution at its source."

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved 34 pollution limits or Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for fecal coliform for impaired waterbodies in New Jersey's Northeast watersheds. The DEP has established an additional 134 TMDLs for fecal coliform in the remainder of the state in the Northwest, Lower Delaware, Raritan and Coastal Water regions, which are awaiting EPA approval. EPA approval also is pending for an additional 35 TMDLs for lakes where phosphorus is the pollutant of concern.

The thirty-four approved TMDLs address 305 river miles or approximately 87 percent of the total river miles impaired by fecal coliform (there are approximately 352 miles of fecal coliform impaired river miles) in the Northeast watershed region. To achieve water quality standards in the impaired waterbodies, reductions in the fecal coliform load will range from 37 to 98 percent. The DEP is partnering with local entities to identify the water pollution caused by nonpoint sources. Additional monitoring by the department will determine if the contamination source is human or nonhuman and what appropriate corrective actions are needed to control or eliminate the pollution source.

Under the 1972 federal Clean Water Act, states must develop lists of waterways that do not meet minimum federal water quality standards. In addition, states must establish TMDLs for these impaired waterbodies, which specify the maximum amount of a pollutant the impaired lake or river can receive and still meet water quality standards. A TMDL allocates pollutants among existing point and nonpoint sources, so that the total pollutant amount will not exceed the overall maximum limit set for each waterbody. By law, EPA must approve or disapprove impaired waterbody lists and TMDLs established by states.

The 34 approved TMDLs establish fecal coliform reductions for segments of the following impaired waterbodies: the Macopin River, Wanaque River, Ramapo River, Saddle River, West Branch of the Saddle River, Ramsey Brook, Hohokus Brook, Passaic River, Preakness Brook, Deepavaal Brook, Diamond Brook, Goffle Brook, Peckman River, Hackensack River, Pascack Brook, Musquapsink Brook, Tenakill Brook, Coles Brook, Black Brook, Dead River, Rockaway River, Canoe Brook, Beaver Brook, and Stony Brook.

In September 2002, DEP and EPA signed a memorandum of agreement that formalized New Jersey's commitment to establish TMDLs. Prior to the agreement, only eleven TMDLs had been approved for New Jersey by EPA over the previous eight years. Under the new agreement, the DEP agreed to establish 155 fecal coliform and eutrophic lake TMDLs by June 30, 2003. DEP established 203 TMDLs prior to the deadline and is waiting for EPA approval for the remainder of the TMDLs.

"Our agreement with EPA strengthens New Jersey's position as a leader among states complying with the Clean Water Act and benefiting from its environmental safeguards," added Commissioner Campbell.

As per the agreement, EPA will provide DEP programmatic and legal guidance, financial support via grants and contracts, and technical assistance with the TMDL program implementation.

In 2003 and 2004, the department will develop and establish additional TMDLs and other management approaches to address phosphorus impairments in the entire non-tidal Passaic River Basin, Rancocas Creek, Pennsauken Creek, Cooper River, Manasquan River, Wallkill River and Papakating Creek. Temperature problems in the Pequannock River will be addressed, as well as Arsenic in the Wallkill and pH in the Atlantic Coastal and Lower Delaware Water regions. New Jersey also is participating in a tri-state effort with Delaware and Pennsylvania to develop four TMDLs for PCBs in the Delaware River. Because the Delaware River is a shared waterbody, the Delaware River Basin Commission is taking the technical lead in the joint project, with the EPA agreeing to establish the TMDLs. The target date for establishing TMDLs for the Delaware River is December 15, 2003. A public hearing for the Delaware River TMDLs is scheduled for October 16, 2003 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Independence Visitor Center in Philadelphia, which is located at 1 North Independence Mall West at Sixth and Market streets.

Fecal coliform enters a waterbody from a number of sources including human, excessive populations of geese, domestic or confined animals, agricultural practices, and wildlife. Fecal coliform from these sources can reach waterbodies directly, through overland runoff, or through sewage or stormwater conveyance facilities. The DEP is addressing the fecal coliform impairment of waterbodies through monitoring, systematic source trackdown, matching management strategies with types of sources, identifying responsible entities and aligning available DEP multi-program resources to implement the TMDLs.



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