UNDERSCORES IMPORTANCE OF STORMWATER INITIATIVES
Dam Overflow Also Demonstrates Need for Dam Repair Funding
(03/180) TRENTON -- New
Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner
Bradley M. Campbell today reminded residents of the importance
of new stormwater regulations that will soon be in place
as a means of reducing flooding and minimizing the harmful
effects of pollution in stormwater runoff.
“Governor McGreevey’s smart
growth initiatives aim to alleviate many of the problems
caused by overdevelopment and sprawl paving over our critical
watershed lands,” said Commissioner Campbell. “By
building smarter and controlling stormwater we can protect
our drinking water and aquifers while reducing the frequency
of flooding such as occurred today.”
With almost two inches of rain falling
in some portions of New Jersey during the last 24 hours,
the combined rain and melting snow have created flooding
problems across the state, such as minor flooding on Assunpink
Creek in Trenton.
DEP’s proposed stormwater rules,
which should be adopted by early next year, will help reduce
flooding incidents by requiring new development designs
to recharge rainfall into groundwater. Recharging underground
aquifers not only bolsters drinking water supplies and mitigates
the effects of droughts, but also reduces the amount of
rainwater that quickly runs off during storms, leading to
flooding such as New Jersey experienced today.
The stormwater rules would also protect
the quality of New Jersey’s drinking water by limiting
the amount of pollution carried by flooding and normal stormwater
into our lakes and streams. The rules require municipalities
to implement common sense programs, such as measures to
cover the salt and sand piles used for road maintenance
during snowy weather so that they do not unnecessarily erode
and wash into our drinking water.
“Few people realize the overwhelming
impact of everyday litter and materials running off into
our stormwater systems,” Campbell said. “Through
these innovative stormwater programs, we can better manage
ordinary things – such as lawn products, pet waste,
and the trash from our garbage cans – and help create
a cleaner, safer water future for New Jersey.”
DEP has proposed two sets of rules related
to stormwater. The first set of proposals will 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 require maintaining 100 percent of the average annual
groundwater recharge statewide.
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.
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 up to 80 percent.
The second set of stormwater control proposals
will require municipalities, highway systems and major public
complexes to develop control plans for stormwater runoff
resulting from both existing and new development. DEP will
provide support to municipalities in preparing these new
water protection rules and initiatives.
Municipalities will be required to take
common sense steps to reduce non-point source pollution,
such as limiting unnecessary pesticide and fertilizer treatments
of lawns, properly disposing of yard and pet waste, retrofitting
of storm sewer grates and better managing of municipal maintenance
The Commissioner also noted that the last
day’s rainfall had contributed to the overflow flooding
at the Wadsworth Dam in Gloucester County. While the dam
itself does not appear to have been damaged, it is one of
the state’s High Hazard Dams that had been particularly
mentioned in debates leading up to the passage of Ballot
Question No. 3 during the November election.
“Flooding at a High Hazard Dam underscores
the urgent need for the source of funding provided by Ballot
Question No. 3 for public and private dam repairs to protect
communities from possibly significant harm,” said
The state classifies a dam as “High
Hazard” if the failure of the dam may result in probable
loss of life and/or extensive property damage.