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Clean Water: Trading or Traitor?

Date : Thu, 16 Oct 2008 11:05:30 -0400

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jeff Tittel October 16, 2008 (609) 558-9100

Clean Water: Trading or Traitor?

Montclair, NJ - Today the Passaic River Institute of Montclair State University held a symposium on issues related to the river. Among the presenters was Christopher Obropta, who heads a team developing a plan for pollution trading on the Passaic, which is plans to submit to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). "The Passaic River is New Jersey's version of De Nile River - the state is Denial about doing its job to adequately protect the river," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

Trading pollution credits will not clean up the Passaic River, which provides the water supply for nearly 4 million people. Not only does the standard for sewer plants under this plan still allow four times the amount of phosphorus discharge recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency for a polluted river, trading credits would also allow a situation in which pollution is moved from below a water supply intake to above it, putting more pollution into the water the people of New Jersey are drinking.

The Passaic River is seriously compromised, with almost 100% of the water in the summer being sewage discharge. In fact, in the summer of 1999, of the 72 million gallons in the river at the Little Falls water supply intake, 70 million gallons were sewer plant discharge. These nutrients also produce so much algae in the summer that all the oxygen is sucked out of the river, making it a running stagnant river that will not support aquatic life.

Since 1986 the DEP has known about these problems with water quality on the river, caused by nutrients coming from both sewer plants and non-point pollution. Instead of working to clean up the river, however, the department has given one excuse after another to get around this obligation. Earlier this year, the DEP came forward with a plan called the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), ostensibly to clean up the river. "This plan should be called Too Many Darn Loopholes," commented Tittel. "The TMDL proposed by the DEP will not clean up the river and puts the Passaic at risk as a future source of drinking water. Rather than cleaning up the river, this trading scheme would only add yet another loophole."

"Rather than entertaining this Bush Administration shell game, the Department of Environmental Protection needs to do its job and enforce the Clean Water Act, which has been requiring the clean up of the Passaic River for more than 20 years," concluded Tittel. "The state has been ignoring this responsibility for two decades - now it is trying to make human waste part of pay-to-play in New Jersey."


Becca Glenn, Program Assistant New Jersey Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618

609-656-7612: phone

609-656-7618: fax

Received on 2008-10-16 08:10:02

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at

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