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Water Quality
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The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) administers the Statewide Water Quality Management (WQM) Planning rules, N.J.A.C. 7:15, in conjunction with the Statewide WQM Plan, which together constitute the Continuing Planning Process conducted pursuant to the Water Quality Planning Act, N.J.S.A. 58:11A-1 et seq., the Water Pollution Control Act, N.J.S.A. 58:10A-1 et seq., and N.J.S.A. 13:1D-1 et seq., and as required by Sections 303(e) and 208 of the Federal Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.).

The primary purpose of the Water Quality Management Planning Program is to establish policies, procedures, and standards which, wherever attainable, help to restore, enhance and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters of the State, including ground waters, and the public trust therein, to protect public health, to safeguard fish and aquatic life and scenic and ecological values, and to enhance the domestic, municipal, recreational, industrial and other uses of water.

The Statewide Water Quality Management Plan was adopted by the DEP in November, 1985 as part of a comprehensive effort to protect water quality in the State. The Plan serves as the foundation of the State’s Water Quality Management Planning Program, and unified three federal Clean Water Act programs - wastewater facilities planning (201), basin planning (303(e)), and areawide planning (208) - into one comprehensive Statewide program.  In addition to addressing federal requirements, these three programs serve to satisfy State requirements for water quality planning specified in the NJ Water Quality Planning Act. The existing DEP Water Quality Management Planning Program and Water Quality Management Planning rules (N.J.A.C. 7:15) represent the State’s current implementation of the areawide planning program (208).

One of the tools the Department utilizes to assure that both current decision making and future planning adequately take into account protection of water quality and quantity is the Water Quality Management Planning rule, N.J.A.C. 7:15.  The Department develops and administers this rule in conjunction with the Statewide WQM Plan, which together constitute the continuing planning process conducted pursuant to the NJ Water Quality Planning Act and as required by Sections 303(e) and 208 of the Federal Clean Water Act. Accordingly, the WQM Planning rules prescribe water quality management policies, procedures and standards.

In accordance with the Water Quality Management Planning Act and Section 208 of the Clean Water Act, the governor designated twelve areawide Water Quality Management Planning Areas in New Jersey. The areawide WQM plans (formerly known as 208 plans), as part of the Statewide WQM Plan, are umbrella plans, each with various adopted components that address different aspects of water resource planning.

Wastewater management plans (WMPs) assess the cumulative water resource impact of future development, are a component of the areawide WQM plans. Total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), which address existing water quality impairment and establish an implementation plan to restore the water quality of those waters, are another component of the areawide plans.  The individual components are adopted into the appropriate areawide WQM plan in order to give them effect.

More Info: Water Quality Management Plans

Wastewater Management Plans (WMPs) are an integral component of areawide WQM plans.  The Department relies on the WMP components of the areawide WQM plans to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the cumulative effects of existing and future land use on the water resources of the State and to ensure that the WQM plans integrate related Federal, State, regional and local comprehensive, functional and other relevant land use planning activities through a continuing planning process. 

The intended purpose of the WMPs is to project future development, estimate the wastewater management needs associated with that development, and specify the preferred wastewater treatment alternative for all areas of the State.  These plans also provide the vehicle to ensure that sewer service is not extended into environmentally sensitive areas.  WMPs also identify public water supply service areas of water purveyors and identify the water supply needs associated with proposed development.  Lastly, because WMPs project future land use and shape the pattern and density of development through the wastewater management alternatives selected within given areas, these plans are instrumental in quantifying existing and future nonpoint source pollution loads and in implementing best management practices to reduce those pollutant loads. 

WQM plans must be updated periodically by WMPs in order to reflect and respond to changes in municipal zoning, State and regional planning activities and regulatory standards, and to ensure that the most up to date information is fully incorporated into decisions concerning wastewater management choices.  To accomplish these continuing planning process objectives, WMPs are not static and are required to be updated every six years.

More Info: Wastewater Management Plans

According to the Water Quality Management Planning Act and the Water Quality Management Planning rule, N.J.A.C. 7:15, the Commissioner of the DEP shall not undertake, or authorize through the issuance of a permit, any project or activity that affects water quality and conflicts with the applicable sections of adopted WQM Plans or the Statewide WQM Planning rules. The rules establish a mechanism for the determination of consistency between proposed projects or activities requiring departmentally issued permits and the WQM Plans. In addition, procedures for the modification of water quality management plans, when necessary, either through amendment or revision are also specified.

The revision process has two separate tracks – one that is solely to address documented errors in the existing WQM Plans, and the other to address certain specified minor changes to the WQM Plan.

The amendment process also has two separate tracks – one that addresses project-specific amendments under specified size limitations, and the other which amends the WQM Plans for entire wastewater management planning areas of municipal size or larger. Designated planning agencies with approved procedures may also process WQM Plan amendments, but Plan amendments approved by designated planning agencies are only valid upon adoption by the Department as the Governor designee.

Guidance and application forms for Consistency Determinations, Amendments, and Revisions can be found at Applications Page.

For additional information on Water Quality Management Planning, please contact:

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Division of Coastal & Land Use Planning
P.O. Box 420, 401 East State Street
Mail Code 401-07C
Trenton, NJ 08625-0420
(609) 984-6888

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Last Updated: November 17, 2014