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Trout Season Opens As Water Quality Worsens

Date : Wed, 11 Apr 2012 14:48:19 -0400

/For Immediate Release/
April 05, 2012 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

*Trout Season Opens As Water Quality Worsens *

/Photo Ops Over Policies to Protect Our Water Quality/

** New Jersey's trout season opens on Saturday.During the seven week season approximately 100,000 anglers will enjoy the almost 200 trout waters in our state.Yet the quality of those waterways is at risk as Governor Christie continues to roll back environmental protections.According to the EPA, only 23 of our 952 waterways are deemed healthy.Governor Christie is rolling back protections for our highest quality trout production and maintenance waters and the buffers around them.Trout are like the canary in the coal mine, they can only survive where the water quality is high.Each year fewer and fewer streams are able to support trout.Commissioner Martin and the DEP are doing public relations on trout season while their policies destroy our water quality.Commissioner Martin is doing photo ops while going after clean water protections.Because of the Christie administration's policies we may not have future trout seasons.

"Trout season should remind all of us how important it is to protect our water quality not only for recreational uses but for drinking water as well.Our precious water resources are constantly under the threat of increasing pollution and diminishing sources.Governor Christie's policies are only worsening our water quality will continue to worsen," *said Jeff Tittel, director of the NJ Sierra Club*. The Governor's budget signals there will be even more privatization of our Parks.Increased revenue in our parks will come from charging more to use boat ramps, park, and use swimming areas, allowing more vendors, and other activities.We are concerned that our State Parks will be turned over to private hands, shutting off public access, increasing costs, and cutting services.The amount of land, buildings, and facilities the Parks Department oversees is going up while staffing continues to decline.Instead of investing in our parks, the Christie administration is using this as an excuse to try to privatize our parks.

"Governor Christie has cut the budget for state parks and eliminated their staff as an excuse to privatize and give away New Jersey's treasured assets to private companies.Governor Christie is privatizing our parks without public oversight, scrutiny, and pay-to-play restrictions," *said Jeff Tittel*. Last month Commissioner Martin, named Richard Boornazian the new Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources.Boornazian has no background in natural or historic resources.Previously he did communications for a real estate firm.We are afraid the direction our parks and natural areas are going in under his leadership with further privatization efforts and cuts in staffing.

"While our water continues to get dirtier the progress we made is being weakened by the Christie administration," *said Jeff Tittel*. The DEP has been holding "stakeholder" meetings where important water quality regulations are being rewritten by special interests.The Stormwater Management regulations are being rewritten to weaken protections for headwaters, 300 foot buffers and recharge areas.The administration wants to weaken the nitrate dilution model to add more development in environmentally sensitive areas.The models are an important tool in protecting ground water and streams from pollution.The buffers and fill limitations in the Flood Hazard Area rules are being rolled back.Even though most counties have submitted water quality management plans that comply with the 2008 Water Quality Management Planning (WQMP) Rules,**the DEP is delaying their implementation force more development and add more sewers in environmentally sensitive areas.New Jersey's Water Supply Master Plan not been updated since 1995 and the Christie administration is dragging its feet because the update will show New Jersey has a very serious water supply problem.The Sierra Club is concerned that this process will be used to weaken environmental standards and pull down rules that are important to the protection of public health and safety.

"These meetings are an excuse to weaken environmental protections and turn New Jersey over to the special interests," *said Jeff Tittel*. "Weakening important rules and standards will not only impact our environment and our water, but will also lead to more sprawl and more pollution, hurting New Jersey's economy." In February, Michele Siekerka was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Water Resource Management.Siekerka oversees water and sewer permitting as well as water supply decision-making.She is currently serving on the board of a Bank previously worked for the Mercer Chamber of Commerce. Under these policies and political cronyism our waterways will continue to deteriorate.According to the 2010 Integrated Water Quality Report, the number of limited use and impaired waterways in New Jersey grew by 9.8% in the last two years alone. Dissolved oxygen and phosphorus in our waterways are two of the biggest sources of pollution, and sprawl growth only makes these problems worse.Rolling back protections in the Highlands and the delaying to the Water Quality Management Rules will directly contribute to these issues.

"Sixty-three percent of our waterways are threatened and the problem is being exacerbated by the Christie administration's active attempts to weaken and undermine protections of clean water" *said Jeff Tittel*. "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's weak record on protecting our water includes:

 * Failure to address pollution from land use that impacts the Barnegat Bay   * Conditionally vetoed a TMDL for the Barnegat Bay   * Failure to clean up sewer plants and enforce the TMDL on the Passaic     River   * Failure to implement the TMDL for the Raritan River   * Vetoed the fracking ban bill to a weak one year moratorium   * Was poised to vote "YES" to open the Delaware River Basin to natural     gas drilling   * Conditionally vetoed the oil spill liability act   * Red Tape Review Group calls for no rule stricter than federal     standards, impacting surface water quality   * State Strategic Plan would allow for development in environmentally     sensitive watersheds, including Highlands, Pinelands, Barnegat Bay,     and Swimming River   * DEP Waiver rule would exempt polluters and developers from over 100     DEP programs   * Went after members of the North Jersey District Water Supply     Commission, an important ally in preservation of the Highlands   * His budget cuts staffing in the DEP leaving less employees to review     land use, NJPDES, and other permits that impact our water   * The DEP newly adopted endangered species rules remove protections     from 31,000 acres, over 50 square miles, of critical habitat,     impacting water supplies.   * Dismantled the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission   * DEP is holding stakeholder meeting to weaken protections for     Category 1 streams and the nitrate dilution model and rewriting     rules for stormwater management, Water Quality Management Planning,     and Flood Hazard Areas

"Every year the politicians love to do a photo op on opening day of trout season.Under Christie's policies the photo op might have to be in another state in years to come.His press release talks about supporting the environment but in reality his administration is weakening environment protections," *said Jeff Tittel*.

Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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Received on 2012-04-11 11:48:19

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