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April 23, 2007

Contact: Elaine Makatura (609) 292-2994
Karen Hershey (609) 984-1795


(07/23) TRENTON - Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson today announced more than 900 miles of waterways and 1,300 acres of reservoirs that supply drinking water to millions of New Jerseyans deserve special protection from the dangers of development - one of two unprecedented water-quality initiatives unveiled by Governor Jon S. Corzine's Administration to mark the 37th anniversary of Earth Day.

Along with recommending Category One protection for high-quality waters in 11 counties, Commissioner Jackson also advanced a major regulatory proposal that would vastly improve wastewater management statewide.

"This Category One proposal is our largest ever, and will mean safer drinking water for New Jersey's families and cleaner habitat for rare species of wildlife," Commissioner Jackson said at a press conference held near the Stony Brook in Mercer County's Hopewell Township. "Through the Corzine Administration's new Water Quality Management Planning rules, we will strengthen our ability to shield environmentally fragile areas from the threats that invariably accompany inappropriate development," the Commissioner said.

The Category One designation, the state's highest level of water-quality protection, limits development impacts and discharges of pollutants to streams, rivers and lakes, ensuring no further degradation to waters that either support critical wildlife or feed into a drinking-water source.

Portions or all of the following waters have been selected for Category One protection: Wallkill River, Sussex County; Musconetcong River and Pequest River, Warren County; Stony Brook, Mercer County; Pompeston Creek, Burlington County; Salem River and Oldmans Creek, Salem County; Toms River, Ocean County; Rockaway River and Split Rock Reservoir, Morris County; Swimming River Reservoir Tributaries, Monmouth County; Oak Ridge Reservoir and Wanaque Reservoir Tributaries, Passaic County; Lamington River, Somerset County; and Ramapo River, Bergen County. Approximately 250 miles of streams are in the Highlands Preservation Area, and already receive some level of protection.

For the first time, the proposed water quality management planning rules address the impacts of septic systems on groundwater, and establish new standards for wastewater management planning, removing environmentally sensitive lands from sewer service areas.

Under these rules, municipal planning authorities would be required to update their wastewater management plans. Currently, 141 municipalities are without plans and another 298 municipalities have outdated plans.

Further, the new rules, once adopted, would give counties a nine-month grace period to submit an application to update their wastewater management plan or face withdrawal of their sewer service area designation. Without a sewer service area designation, developers cannot obtain sewer hookups for new development. The rules propose that upon completion of a wastewater management plan, the appropriate sewer-service area designation will be restored.

Both sets of proposed regulations will be published in the May 21 edition of the New Jersey Register. Following a 60-day public comment period, final rules will be adopted.

To view a copy of the Category One rule proposal or the proposal to amend the state's Water Quality Management Rules, visit the DEP's Web site at:




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Last Updated: April 23, 2007