Water Quality Assessment
The Bureau of Water Quality Standards and Assessment (BWQSA) is responsible for conducting and coordinating water quality assessments of all waters of the State. These assessments are reported through the New Jersey Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report (Integrated Report). The Integrated Reports are intended to provide effective tools for maintaining high quality waters and improving the quality of waters that do not attain their designated uses (i.e., contain impaired waterbodies).
The Integrated Reports describe attainment of the designated uses of surface waters of the State, as specified in the New Jersey Surface Water Quality Standards (N.J.A.C. 7:9B), which include: aquatic life, recreation, drinking water, fish consumption, shellfish consumption, industrial and agricultural. In addition to identifying impaired waterbodies, the Integrated Reports identify subwatersheds where there is no water quality impairment, i.e., all designated uses are attained.
A description of the methodology used to assess water quality for the Integrated Report is provided in the Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Methods Document (Methods Document) prepared to accompany the Integrated Report. The Methods Document is a companion to the Integrated Report. It includes a description of the quality assurance requirements as well as the rationale for the placement of waterbodies on the Integrated List contained in the Integrated Report. The goal of the Methods Document is to provide an objective and scientifically-sound water quality assessment methodology including:
- A description of the data the Department will use to assess attainment of the designated uses;
- The quality assurance aspects of the data;
- A detailed description of the methods used to evaluate designated use attainment;
- The rationale for the placement of waterbodies on one of the five sublists in the Integrated Report.
The primary deliverable of the statewide water quality assessment process is the Integrated List, which identifies the use attainment and assessment status of all waters of the State. The Integrated List is generated by placing all of the State's waterbodies into one of five possible categories (called sublists) based upon the following considerations: 1) the degree of attainment of the designated uses, 2) how much information is available to determine use attainment, and 3) the cause(s) and source(s) of non-attainment. Sublist 5 of the Integrated List is comprised of assessment units where the designated use is not attained or is threatened by a pollutant(s) and a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is required. Sublist 5 serves as the basis for the State's 303(d) List of Water Quality Limited Waters.
The Federal Clean Water Act mandates that states submit to USEPA, on a biennial basis, a list of waterbodies that are not attaining water quality standards despite the implementation of technology-based effluent limits. All such impaired waterbodies must be identified on this List of Water Quality Limited Waters or "303(d) List." States must prioritize 303(d)-listed waterbodies for TMDL analyses and identify those high priority waterbodies for which they anticipate establishing TMDLs in the next two years. Since 2002, New Jersey has integrated its 303(d) List with its 305(b) Water Quality Inventory Report and submitted to USEPA a comprehensive, Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report that satisfies the reporting requirements of Sections 303(d), 305(b) and 314 of the Federal Clean Water Act.
For more information, please contact the Bureau of Water Quality Standards and Assessment at (609) 777-1753.