DEP ISSUES FIRST STATE OF THE ENVIRONMENT REPORT FOR THE PUBLIC
New Jersey's first environmental progress report written for the
general public documents the success of strategies that have resulted
in cleaner air, cleaner water
and expanding areas of protected open space while also outlining what
concerned individuals can do to help meet the state's continuing
Jersey's Environment 1998, written by the Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP), uses plain language to outline the status
of New Jersey's air and water quality, waste management and natural resources,
as well as goals for the future. The overall quality of the state's environment
is improving in many areas including:
- Substantial reduction of formerly significant levels of many types
of air and water pollution such as a reduction in the number of ozone
days and a yearly increase in the amount of shellfish harvesting waters.
- Preservation of broad areas of open space and farmland with
increases every year to the current 920,000 acres which Gov. Whitman
has pledged to double within the next decade.
- Encouragement of cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites
through incentives and programs that have significantly increased the
number of remediations. From 1994 through 1997, private parties and
local governments signed 5,648 voluntary cleanup agreements.
In her inaugural address in January, Gov. Whitman noted that the state
would establish ways to measure and report to the public on
environmental quality and progress.
"This report keeps my pledge to provide an accounting, in plain
English, of the substantial progress we've made improving the health
of New Jersey's environment," said Governor Christie Whitman. "We
recycle more than any other state. Our air is cleaner than it has been
in decades and so are our coastal waters, where we have opened new
shellfish beds every year for the past 11 years. Ten years ago we had
over 800 beach closings. New Jersey now boasts the cleanest beaches in
While the report covers information through 1997, additional
environmental progress has been made since then including a reduction
in the number of ozone violations to only four this year and only
three beach closings.
"This State of the Environment report is interrelated with our
Strategic Plan and National Environmental Performance Partnership
System (NEPPS) to establish indicators and goals by measuring and
evaluating the effectiveness of our efforts," said DEP Commissioner
"We have made great progress in many areas, such as air and water
quality, and pollution prevention. We believe we can further these
trends of reducing pollution and I encourage New Jersey citizens to
join our efforts as partners for a cleaner, healthier environment."
In addition to explaining and charting current trends, each section of
the report lists specific steps the public can take for cleaner air
and water, and a higher quality of life in New Jersey, as well as ways
for obtaining additional information.
Distribution of the report will include major libraries, mayors,
secondary school educators, watershed associations, environmental
commissions and at various state-wide events.
Air Quality: Air quality in New Jersey is greatly improved, with two
thirds fewer unhealthful air quality days than in the late 1980s, when
the number regularly reached 30 or more annually. The state, in
general, is in compliance with five out of the six criteria air
pollutants that have federal standards. (carbon monoxide, sulfur
dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, lead and particulates).
- For the remaining pollutant, ozone, we are making progress to be in
compliance with the new, more stringent eight-hour standard that must
be met by the year 2010. We also are taking steps to reduce
particulate matter to comply with more stringent standards before the
year 2015 deadline. New Jersey is implementing regulations to reduce
emissions from heavy-duty diesel trucks and industrial facilities, and
promoting low emission vehicles.
- To address the long-term threat of sea level rise, the state is
developing a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging
energy efficiency and innovative technology.
Water Quality: Water quality continues to improve. Due to a variety
of efforts over the past 20 years, fish populations in the Delaware
have rebounded dramatically, shellfish harvesting beds have been
reclaimed, ocean dumping has ceased, and numerous sewage treatment
plants have been upgraded.
- To address more "nonpoint source" pollutants, such as fertilizers,
litter, street oils, etc. that rain washes into our waterways, New
Jersey is developing a watershed management program. This statewide
project involves regional partnerships to control these non-point
sources of pollution.
- To protect drinking water supplies, the state carries out aggressive
programs to remove leaking underground storage tanks, to clean up
Superfund and other contaminated sites, and to set drinking water
standards and require testing. In 1997,
7 percent of the water systems in New Jersey exceeded the maximum
contaminant levels for volatile organic chemicals, compared to 20
percent in 1983.
Natural Resources: Statewide, since its inception 35 years ago, the
Green Acres program has provided over $1.4 billion to the state,
counties, municipalities and non-profits for the protection of over
390,000 acres. The amount of open space in New Jersey has nearly
doubled in the past 25 years. Presently, New Jersey has 920,000 acres
of permanently protected open space. Voters in November approved Gov.
Whitman's plan to protect an additional 1 million acres.
- About 175 million pounds of fish valued at more than $95 million are
harvested annually from New Jersey waters. Populations of striped
bass, weakfish and summer founder are making significant recoveries,
while other species are declining. Fish and shellfish consumption
advisories for five species are in effect in select waters, due to
- Fifteen percent of New Jersey's native plants are endangered, and
nearly one of every three native New Jersey plants is at risk of
becoming rare. About one third of the state's animal species are
either rare or endangered. The key to protecting endangered and
threatened species is to preserve parcels of open space and link them
with greenway corridors. These provide the variety of conditions that
plants and animals need to survive and reproduce. In Cape May, 40
percent of the habitat needed for migratory and resident wildlife has
been lost to development over the past 20 years. The state is working
with a number of partners to protect habitat in Cape May.
Waste: Our state's sharp focus on pollution prevention since the late
1980s has resulted in the recycling and re-use of industrial wastes,
and greater production efficiencies that have translated into
significant cost-savings. Between 1991 and 1994, industrial waste
generation increased 3.5 percent nationwide, yet declined 34 percent
in New Jersey.
- Of the 16 million tons of solid waste produced a year, 10 million
tons are recycled. This 60 percent recycling rate was achieved in
1997. The state's goal is to increase the recycling rate to 65 percent
by the year 2000. In 1970, hundreds of landfills were operating in New
Jersey with little regard for the environment, and incinerators had no
air pollution controls. Today, there are just 14 landfills, all
state-of-the-art, and five waste incinerators, using the best
available pollution controls.
- Previously unregulated landfills contributed to the large number of
contaminated sites. However, due to the state's aggressive efforts, by
1997, a total of 15,815 sites had been cleaned and required no further
action, up from 9,326 sites in 1994.
STEPS THE PUBLIC CAN TAKE TO HELP
Become more informed - Visit the DEP's home page at http://www.state.nj.us/dep
for more information on all of the department's programs. Copies of New
Jersey's Environment 1998 may be obtained by calling the Division of Science
and Research at (609) 984-6071. The report also will be available on the
home page by Dec. 11. [The
report is now available at http:\\www.state.nj.us\dep\dsr\soe\soe.html.]
Additional information on New Jersey's environmental indicator
activities also is available on the home page under the NEPPS
portion through a companion report entitled Environmental
Indicators Technical Report 1998.
- Conserve energy - Most energy use comes from the burning of fuel, so
the more efficiently we use energy, the less pollution. Turn off
unneeded lights, use a fan instead of an air conditioner when possible
and consider efficiency when buying new appliances.
- Maintain your car - Keep your car tuned, and get it inspected when due.
- Drive less - Try to substitute with mass transit, carpooling, walking
or riding a bike. When buying a new car, look for the most fuel
efficient and lowest emitting models.
- Conserve water - Install flow restrictors on faucets and use low-flow
shower devices. Don't let water run unnecessarily. Minimize lawn
- Reduce pesticide use - Implement alternative pest control methods such
as biological and mechanical controls, sanitation, and selective use
of the least hazardous pesticides when needed. Don't apply pesticides
or fertilizers before a heavy rain.
- Don't leak vehicle fluids - Correct petroleum leaks from vehicles to
- Participate in watershed management -Join local watershed associations
to help in monitoring, litter clean-ups, stream bank and wetlands
restoration, and education.
- Check-off for Wildlife - Contribute to the protection of endangered
species by checking off for wildlife on line 46B of your state tax
form. Purchase a Conserve Wildlife license plate at Motor Vehicle
agencies or by calling 609-292-6500 for an application.
- Create habitat - For information on creating a backyard habitat for
migratory and breeding birds, contact the Endangered and Nongame
Species Program at (609)628-2103.
- Participate in your local recycling program - both at home and in the
- Purchase products containing recycled-content materials - practice
environmental shopping and purchase products that are reusable or
packaged in bulk for less waste.
- Dispose of hazardous wastes properly - Don't dispose of motor oil,
antifreeze or other hazardous wastes in storm sewers, toilets or house
drains. Bring such wastes to county hazardous waste collection centers
on designated days.
- Switch from chemical-type household cleaners - Substitute natural
products, like soap and water. Vinegar and water works well as a
- Leave grass clippings on the lawn - These clippings fertilize your
lawn and not bagging them reduces the amount of yard waste for trash
disposal in landfills.