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New Jersey 2012 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report
(includes 305(b) Report and 303(d) List)

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (Department) is responsible for conducting and coordinating water quality assessments for 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 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 progress toward 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). These 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 all designated uses are attained because the water quality is not impaired.

New Jersey’s water quality has been improving since the 1970s.  During that era, the Department focused on achieving better treatment, as well as improving the operation and management of classic point sources – sources that directly discharge pollutants into waterways. These efforts achieved improved water quality throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Remaining sources of pollution – nonpoint sources – are diffuse and harder to control.  They include pollutants that enter waterways through indirect means, such as oil on a roadway that gets washed into a storm drain or stream after a rain.  A United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Nonpoint Source Fact Sheet (available on USEPA's Web site at http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/nps/outreach/point1.cfm) identifies nonpoint source pollution as the nation’s largest water quality problem. It states that nationwide approximately 40% of surveyed rivers, lakes and estuaries are not clean enough for fishing and swimming due to nonpoint sources from sediment and nutrients.

A United States Geological Survey (USGS) water quality trend analysis of 371 New Jersey water monitoring stations from 1998 to 2009 shows that total phosphorus and dissolved oxygen levels have improved statewide.  The longer term trend analysis shows water conditions for other parameters remains relatively stable. There are two exceptions: nitrates and total dissolved solids (TDS). Nitrate increases are most likely attributable to better treatment to address ammonia toxicity, which is a positive development.  The other exception is the seasonal increase in TDS, which reflects the outcome of road salting.  The Department’s 2012 assessment (based on data collected between 2006 to 2010) shows a significant improvement since 2002.  The Department agrees with EPA that nonpoint source pollution remains the primary cause of remaining water quality problems.

Water quality monitoring, assessment and restoration is an ongoing process.  Surface water quality standards, as well as monitoring design and assessment methods, are continuously updated to reflect advances in scientific knowledge about linkages between standards and use support and improved analytical methods and field procedures.  Data monitoring helps to assess condition of waters, identify sources of impairment, develop restorative responses, and measure the effectiveness of the responses, leading to adaptive management. The Barnegat Bay initiative, more fully described at http://www.nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/, illustrates application of these concepts, with the goal being to identify the relative role that water quality and other stressors play and developing responses that are tailored to addressing the stressors effectively.

One example of where an integrated response has achieved improvement of water quality can found in the lower Pequest River.  An assessment unit that had been impaired for three parameters is now attaining water quality standards due to the combined effect of regulatory and non-regulatory actions, including targeted funding using federal 319(h) pass through grant funds for streambank restoration and stormwater controls.  Using an integrated approach that includes fostering and focusing the work of partners, positive results such as these are expected to be replicated throughout the state.

Current Status of the 2012 Integrated Report:

The final 2012 303(d) List, Integrated List, and other related documents were revised in response to comments received from the public as well as USEPA. The final 2012 303(d) List was approved by USEPA on September 25, 2014 and adopted by the Department on October 9, 2014 as an amendment to the Statewide Water Quality Management Plan pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:15. A notice of adoption was published in the January 5, 2015 New Jersey Register. The full 2012 Integrated Report and its key components are available for download from the links provided below:

The Final 2012 Integrated List, 303(d) List, and Delisted Waters reports were all generated using USEPA's Assessment Database (ADB) report format, which is exlained in more detail in the fact sheet below:

Fact Sheet: How to Use The 2012 Assessment Unit Summary List (pdf)

Key Findings

  • Overall statewide water quality has improved or remained stable over time; localized changes in water quality are usually associated with changes in land use.  Generally, water quality declines as the intensity of land use increases.  The largest concentrations of high quality waters are located in the least developed regions of the state, specifically the upper northwest and the Pinelands region.
  • Statewide, 400 miles of rivers and streams, and 1,560 acres of lakes located within 23 of New Jersey’s 952 subwatersheds fully support all designated uses (except for fish consumption).
  • Approximately 40% of New Jersey’s 18,400 miles of rivers and streams and 52,000 acres of lakes support the aquatic life designated use. Those that do not  are mostly due to nutrient over enrichment.
  • New Jersey assesses support of designated uses for all surface waters except 510 miles of rivers and streams, and 1,200 acres of lakes located in 40 subwatersheds.
  • The most frequent cause of water quality impairment is the result of pathogens, which include E. coli, enterococcus, fecal coliform and total coliform.  Pathogens are the primary cause of recreational use impairment as well as shellfish harvesting restrictions.
  • Maps displaying the spatial extent for designated uses may be found at the following links:

Delaware River and Bay Water Quality Assessment

Delaware River waters are assessed by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). DRBC's 2012 Water Quality Assessment Report is available on the DRBC Web site at http://www.nj.gov/drbc/.

Additional Information

Details about the 2012 Integrated Report development process, including draft documents and public notices, are available on the 2012 Integrated Report Schedule/Milestones web page. All current and historic water quality assessment documents, as well as relevant USEPA guidance, are available on the Technical Support and Related Documents web page. Additional information about the Integrated Report Process is also available on the General Information web page. For more information, please contact the Bureau of Environmental Analysis, Restoration and Standards at (609) 633-1441.

*  The Adobe Acrobat PDF documents require a free PDF Reader from Adobe. We recommend using a current copy of the Reader to avoid compatibility problems. Also, there may be a time lag before a Web browser displays a PDF document's contents. This particularly happens with large documentsGet free Adobe Acrobat pdf reader

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Department of Environmental Protection
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Last Modified: January 21, 2015

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