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Water Quality Worsening in New Jersey

Date : Tue, 28 Feb 2012 13:47:53 -0500

/For Immediate Release/
February 28, 2012 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

*Water Quality Worsening in New Jersey*

/EPA Approves the 2010 Integrated Water Quality Report Findings/

** The number of impaired waterways in New Jersey is growing at an alarming rate, according to the 2010 Integrated Water Quality Report. This data was approved today by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).Under the federal Clean Water Act, states are required to report surface water quality to the USEPA every two years.The latest 2010 report found the number of limited use and impaired waterways in New Jersey grew by 9.8% in the last two years alone, according to an analysis prepared by the Sierra Club.

**

"Water is a precious resource constantly under the threat of increasing pollution and diminishing sources.The Water Quality Report shows that just even in a two year span, there has been a worsening of water quality in New Jersey," *said Jeff Tittel, director of the NJ Sierra Club*. "Our waterways are becoming threatened by more pollutants." The Report contains an Integrated List of Waters which measures water quality at the sub-watershed level for a designated use such as drinking water, recreation, and aquatic wildlife.If the water body does not meet those standards due to chemical contamination, it is placed on the List of Water Quality Limited Waters and a total maximum daily load (TMDL) is established as the maximum amount of a pollutant that the waterbody can receive to still meet water quality standards. An increased availability of data found a slight rise in the number of waterways qualifying to meet all designated uses, up to 2.7% from 1.8% in 2008.However the long term trend for New Jersey's water quality is dangerous: in 2002, 10% of waterways qualified for all uses and in 1996, 15% meet all uses.The drop in the quality of our waterways is precipitous and indicative of continuing degradation. There are more streams that we do not have enough data to classify them.In the past New Jersey has been sanctioned for not expanding its Water Quality Monitoring Network. There is only one watershed in the entire state, the Flat Brook, that meets all uses.The rest are segments of certain streams.The Flat Brook watershed is targeted for growth under the Governor's State Strategic Plan because it has two centers.

"We see the sprawl line moving further out into environmentally sensitive areas every year threatening water quality and habitat and creating more flooding.At the rate we are going clean water in New Jersey will be an endangered species," *said Jeff Tittel*. The report also found that dissolved oxygen and phosphorus in our waterways were two of the biggest sources of pollution in our waterways.The delay to the Water Quality Management Rules, which will open up 300,000 environmentally sensitive acres to development, will only make these problems worse.A report by Princeton Hydro found that if these lands were developed the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus that would be added to waterways is the equivalent of dumping 23,000 bags of fertilizer in the water each year.The increase in suspended solids is comparable to 225,000 dump truck loads in our streams, lakes, and bays. The report also found that the three largest sources of pollution were non-point source pollution, stormwater discharges, and combined sewer overflows.The Governor vetoed the TMDL bill for Barnegat Bay which would have reduced non-point pollution entering the Bay.The Governor also vetoed two bills that would have allowed for improvements to stormwater systems in the Barnegat Bay watershed.The Legislature is currently considering two bills that would provide funding to clean up combined sewer overflows at the DEP and county and municipal levels. The additional data has also resulted in a rise in the number of waterways for which TMDLs must be established, 25.5%, up from 18.4% in the 2008 report.

"Sixty-three percent of our waterways are threatened, either requiring a TMDL or being limited in use due to pollution, and the problem is being exacerbated by the Christie administration's active attempts to weaken and undermine protections of clean water" *said Jeff Tittel*. "The data clearly demonstrates there are problems now but our water quality will continue to worsen as this administration promotes the DEP Waiver Rule, attacks the Highlands Act and attempts to weaken regulations for flood hazard area rules, NJPDES, stream buffers, Category one waterways and stormwater." The Christie administration has signed legislation delaying the implementation of updated Water Quality Management Planning rules by two years allowing sewers to extend into environmental sensitive areas.The Governor's revised State Strategic Plan turns the lands surrounding our most threatened waterways into growth areas.They have also proposed a Waiver Rule that would allow developers and polluters to avoid over 100 DEP regulations.The DEP has held closed door stakeholder meetings on the standards for protective Category 1 waterway designations, the Highlands and stormwater rules. With these rollbacks, having clean safe drinking water will become harder and harder in New Jersey.We will have to spend more money on water treatment facilities.

"The ultimate goal is to have a greater number of unimpaired waterways and this report underscores the need to continue monitoring New Jersey's waterways and implementing protections to achieve water quality standards that will protect the residents of the state," *said Jeff Tittel*. "This report indicates that a shocking number of our waterways are still at risk from contamination and now is not the time for regulatory rollbacks." A complete list of impaired waters in New Jersey is available at: http://www.epa.gov/region02/water/waterbodies

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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Received on 2012-02-28 10:47:53

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tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
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