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Notice of Proposed Rulemaking & Public Hearing: Importations of Water Into and Exportations of Water From the Delaware River Basin; Discharges of Wastewater from High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing and Related Activities
NOTE: Written Comment Deadline Extended

On November 16, 2021, the DRBC announced that it has extended the written comment period for this proposal to 5 p.m., Monday, February 28, 2022.

The original deadline for written comments was January 28, 2022.

October 28, 2021, News Release

On October 28, 2021, the Commission published on its web site proposed amendments to its regulations regarding the importation and exportation of water and wastewater into and from the Delaware River Basin and the discharge of wastewater from high volume hydraulic fracturing, along with a schedule of public hearings and a written comment period.

There will be four virtual public hearings on this proposal in December 2021 (details here), and written comments will be accepted through 5 p.m. on February 28, 2022 (new date!) (details here).

Proposal Summary

The DRBC is soliciting public comment on proposed amendments to:

  • DRBC's Water Code concerning importations of water into and exportations of water from the Delaware River Basin

  • DRBC's Special Regulations – High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing to adopt a determination and prohibition regarding the discharge of wastewater from high volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) and related activities to waters or land within the Basin

  • DRBC's Water Quality Regulations, to include within those regulations the proposed determination and prohibition on discharges of wastewater from HVHF and related activities. 

Briefly, the proposed amendments address:

  • Wastewater from HVHF: The proposed amendments to DRBC's Special Regulations, Part 440—High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing include a determination that the discharge of wastewater from HVHF and HVHF-related activities poses significant, immediate and long-term risks to the Basin’s water resources and that controlling future pollution by prohibiting such discharges within the Basin is required to effectuate the Commission's Comprehensive Plan. This determination is accompanied by related definitions and a prohibition on the discharge of wastewater from HVHF and HVHF-related activities to waters or land within the Basin.

  • Water Exportation: The Commission's policy has been to discourage the exportation of water from the Basin. The draft amendments establish the circumstances under which proposed exportations that meet the Commission's existing threshold for review may be considered for approval. Under the proposed rule, the Commission may approve an exportation of water if the export is needed to serve a straddled or adjacent public water system; if it is required on a temporary, short-term or emergency basis to meet public health and safety needs; or if it comprises an exportation of wastewater. The Commission will require an analysis of alternatives to the proposed exportation and will consider in its review factors that include the effects of the proposal on public health and safety and the effectuation of its Comprehensive Plan.

  • Water Importation: The proposed regulations clarify the factors the Commission will use in evaluating proposed importations of water or wastewater that meet the Commission's existing thresholds for review. Although importations of wastewater are "discouraged," they may be permitted after careful consideration to ensure that available alternatives have been evaluated, treatment is employed to ensure applicable water quality criteria are achieved, restoration efforts are not impeded and uses incorporated in the Commission's Comprehensive Plan are protected.

  • Water Quality Regulations: To facilitate the alignment of certain Basin state discharge permits with the proposed Special Regulations regarding wastewater from high volume hydraulic fracturing, the Commission proposes to amend its Water Quality Regulations Article 4—Application of Standards to incorporate into this article the determination, relevant definitions and prohibition described above.
Public Hearing Information

Public hearings will be held remotely via Zoom on the following dates at the noted times:

1. December 8, 2021, from 2:30 p.m. to no later than 4:30 p.m.


2. December 8, 2021, from 6:30 p.m. to no later than 8:30 p.m.


3. December 15, 2021, from 1 p.m. to no later than 3 p.m.


4. December 15, 2021, from 4 p.m. to no later than 6 p.m.

Please Note:

  • If you would like to attend the public hearing(s) without offering oral comment, registration is not required. Attendance at each public hearing is not limited.

  • If you would like to provide oral comment at a public hearing, you must register in advance via Eventbrite to do so.

  • Online registration will remain open until 5 p.m. on the day prior to the hearing date or until all available speaking slots have been filled, whichever is earlier.

  • The public hearings will also be livestreamed on YouTube. However, if you wish to provide oral comment at a hearing, you must participate via Zoom (and register in advance).

  • Each person who wishes to provide oral comment may do so at only one public hearing.

  • Depending on the number who wish to be heard, speakers will be limited to about three minutes. 

  • Registrations will be monitored, and if capacity is not adequate to accommodate all who wish to speak, additional opportunities may be added.

  • Elected government officials and their staff will have the opportunity to identify themselves when registering to attend a hearing and may be given priority in the speaker sequence.

  • Written and oral comment will receive equal consideration.
Submit Written Comments

Written comments will be accepted through 5 p.m. on February 28, 2022

  • Written comments along with any attachments must be submitted through the Commission's online public comment collection system at: https://dockets.drbc.commentinput.com/?id=x2K8A.

  • All materials should be provided in searchable formats, preferably in .pdf searchable text. Notably, a picture scan of a document may not result in searchable text.

  • Non-digitized, voluminous materials such as books, journals or collected letters and petitions will not be accepted. Digital submissions of articles and websites must be accompanied by a statement containing citations to the specific findings or conclusions the commenter wishes to reference.

  • Written and oral comment will receive equal consideration.

  • Comments received through any method other than the designated on-line method, including via email, fax, postal/delivery services or hand delivery, will not be considered or included in the rulemaking record unless an express exception has been granted. Requests for exceptions from the web-based-submissions-only policy based on lack of access to the web-based comment system may be addressed to: Commission Secretary, DRBC, P.O. Box 7360, West Trenton, NJ 08628.
Substance of Comments

The Commission expressly seeks comment on the effects the proposed rules may have within the Basin on:

  • water availability;

  • the control and abatement of water pollution;

  • economic development;

  • the conservation and protection of drinking water supplies;

  • the conservation and protection of aquatic life;

  • the conservation and protection of water quality in Special Protection Waters; and

  • the protection, maintenance and improvement of water quantity and quality Basinwide


The Commission welcomes and will consider any other comments that concern the potential effects of the draft rules on the conservation, utilization, development, management and control of the water and related resources of the Basin.

Comments on matters not within the scope of the proposed rules may not be considered.

Supporting Documentation

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Public Hearing

  • View Notice (pdf; includes supplementary information and pertinent background regarding this proposed rulemaking)
    • Please Note: The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Public Hearing refers to the fish consumption advisories of the Commission’s member states and provides citations to the member states’ fish consumption advisories. Because such advisories are continually updated, the citations within the Notice may be superseded by subsequent updates. For the most up-to-date fish consumption advisories, please visit: https://www.nj.gov/drbc/programs/quality/fish-consumption.html.

  • View Notice as appears in Federal Register (pdf; posted 11/22/21)

Proposed Amendments:


Learn More: DRBC Regulations

Contacts

For information regarding the public hearings and submission of written comments:

For information concerning the proposed amendments:

  • Contact Pamela Bush, Commission Secretary and Assistant General Counsel, at pam.bush@drbc.gov (preferred) or 609-477-7203.

Notice Posted: October 28, 2021
Notice Updated: November 16, 2021 (updated written comment deadline to February 28, 2022)