NRI — Ground Water
Ground water is both an environmentally sensitive resource and a potential pathway to other natural resources such as surface water and wetlands. Approximately 50% of New Jersey residents utilize ground water as a drinking water source. It is also important for agricultural and industrial uses. For voluntary/cooperative settlement purposes, NJDEP considers ground water to be injured when contaminants are above NJ Ground Water Quality Standards. Use of the Ground Water Quality Standards for voluntary/cooperative settlement purposes should not be construed as precluding or limiting the NJDEP in pursuing, through legal means if necessary, restoration to a pre-discharge condition.
Ground water injuries should be characterized during the remedial investigation process. This process must delineate the horizontal and vertical extent of contaminants in all media at the site and determine the general surface and subsurface characteristics of the site, and the depth of ground water (see N.J.A.C. 7:26E). Once characterization information which also includes duration, is complete, it is used in the voluntary/cooperative ground water injury calculation to determine resource value.
The voluntary/cooperative ground water injury calculation establishes the relative magnitude of the restoration necessary to compensate for the injury. Once this value is calculated, the NJDEP enters into settlement discussions with the responsible party to identify an appropriate restoration project.
The NJDEP has a strong preference that the responsible party implements a project to restore injured natural resources. For ground water, this usually consists of property acquisition to preserve aquifer recharge. However, the responsible party has the option to provide monetary compensation (based on the result of the injury calculation) in lieu of implementing a restoration project. The NJDEP is obligated to utilize these funds to implement appropriate restoration projects by maintaining a nexus to the ground water injury. Monetary compensation may be used to fund property acquisitions or other open space projects. ONRR will often partner with the Green Acres Program to accomplish acquisition of open space occurring in the same aquifer or watershed as the injury.
Use the links below to get information on how to run the voluntary/cooperative ground water injury calculation: