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EPA Blasts the Legislature’s Dirty Water Bill

Date : Tue, 06 Jan 2012 17:23:54 -0500

For Immediate Release
January 6, 2012 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

*EPA Blasts the Legislature’s Dirty Water Bill *

/Agency Says Bill Violates Clean Water Act/

// The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said "significant adverse impacts" to New Jersey’s water quality would result from a bill before the Legislature delaying the state’s Water Quality Planning Rules. *A4335/S3156*, which will be before the Senate and Assembly on Monday, undermines water quality protections and creates loopholes in the regulations.In their analysis, the EPA found the legislation would jeopardize New Jersey’s ability to comply with the Clean Water Act and would cost the state millions in federal grants.

"We thank the EPA for standing up for clean water in the state of New Jersey and for doing the analysis the Legislature and DEP refuses to do on this bill.The EPA has found this legislation will destroy our waterways and could cost the state millions.Our Legislature is ignoring these consequences and moving ahead to please developers and special interests.This dirty deal at the State House will directly result in dirty water for New Jersey residents," *said Jeff Tittel, Director NJ Sierra Club*. The EPA opposes the further delay of the rules which were supposed to be implemented in April of this year after significant prior delays.The agency called for the rules implemented now as setting back the rules risked water quality.Delaying the rules would keep 300,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land open to sewer service.Barnegat Bay would be the hardest hit by the resulting increased pollution, as 35,000 critical acres could be paved over, destroying the Bay. The EPA blasted the inclusion of a loophole in the bill to allow for new sewer service in areas that do not have capacity to treat wastewater at existing treatment facilities.This provision could extend sewers into new parcels beyond the 300,000 environmentally sensitive acres without environmental analysis or to areas without sewer plants or plants that do not have capacity to treat the waste.Compliance with the Clean Water Act would be jeopardized as this will cause greater problems with combined sewer overflows, decrease water quality, and could create requests for package treatment plants.This legislation would jeopardize TMDLs on Barnegat Bay and the Raritan or Passaic Rivers because of all the increased pollution. A report by Princeton Hydro found the development of the 300,000 acres would result in 750,000 pounds of nutrients and 335 million pounds of dirt hitting our waterways.That is the equivalent of dumping 23,000 bags of fertilizer and 225,000 dump truck loads of dirt into our rivers, streams, and lakes each year.That is not looking at additional sewer discharge. The bill would also remove requirements to clean up groundwater pollution.Counties will no longer be required to submit septic density standards to regulate growth in more rural areas.Under the bill, they could submit only the sewer service area portion of their wastewater management plan and still receive approval from the DEP.Even more dangerous, the bill would allow DEP to approve those sewer service areas if they are in "substantial" and not full compliance with the WQMP rules.

"Laws have consequences and this law will have tremendous negative impacts on New Jersey’s drinking water and water supply.This is the biggest attack on clean water by the New Jersey Legislature in years. This legislation means more pollution, loss of more open space and more flooding.This legislation undoes years of progress in cleaning up and protecting our waterways," *said* *Jeff Tittel*. In 1988, the EPA asked New Jersey to roll back sewer service areas by 1994 and provided the state with $3 million in grant funding to update the plans. In 2009, New Jersey received more than $1.6 million from the EPA for these plans.New Jersey received millions to implement these rules and this delay would violate those agreements. If this bill passes in its current form, the New Jersey Sierra Club will petition EPA to remove delegation for Water Quality Planning from New Jersey and have federal direct oversight on New Jersey water programs restored.Because this bill violates the Clean Water Act, the EPA not only has the authority to remove delegation and permitting from the state of New Jersey when it comes to water, they can also block millions in grants for infrastructure.

"This bill clearly violates the Clean Water Act.This bill is a direct threat to New Jersey’s drinking water and overall water supply and we will petition to remove delegation from New Jersey and go to court to protect New Jersey’s drinking water.This bill takes the side of the builders and polluters over the people of New Jersey,"*said* *Jeff Tittel*.

Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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Received on 2012-01-06 14:23:54

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