According TO US EPA Report, NJ Has the Worst Water Quality in the Country – Over 90% of Rivers, Lakes, Streams, Bays, and Ocean Are Polluted, Unhealthy, and Fail to Meet Clean Water Act Standards

April 20th, 2014 No comments

Christie Administration’s Deregulation and Disinvestment Bring Dirty Water

NJ Waters Fail to Meet Standards and DEP Cleanup Plans Are Ineffective

All While US EPA Lamely Asks:  How’s My Waterway?

Source: US EPA

Source: US EPA

Last week, we wrote about how the Christie Administration’s austerity policy was accelerating the deficit in clean water infrastructure – both wastewater treatment and drinking water systems, see:

We also posted a few pictures of one stream negatively impacted by the Fenimore landfill, see:

Of course, the “insidious ecological decline” of Barnegat Bay is another example of Clean Water Act impairment we’ve written in some detail about.

And for years, we have written about Gov. Christie’s deregulation and privatization policies.

So today, we put it all in context, based upon the data in US EPA’s new “enhanced version of “How’s My Waterway” app and website initiative.

We thought we’d outline some of the consequences off that set of Christie policies, in terms of clean water in NJ. (hit link for complete picture).

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an enhanced version of “How’s My Waterway,” an app and website to help people find information on the condition of thousands of lakes, rivers and streams across the United States from their smart phone, tablet or desktop computer.

The How’s My Waterway app and website,, uses GPS technology or a user-entered zip code or city name to provide information about the quality of local water bodies. The new version of the site includes data on local drinking water sources, watersheds and efforts to protect waterways, as well as a map-oriented version of “How’s My Waterway” designed for museum kiosks, displays and touch screens, available at:

“Communities and neighborhoods across the U.S. want to know that their local lakes, rivers and streams are healthy and safe to enjoy with their families, and providing that information is a priority for EPA,” said acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water Nancy Stoner. “The enhanced version of ‘How’s My Waterway’ provides easy, user-friendly access to the health of the places we swim, fish and boat, where we get our drinking water, and what is being done to curb water pollution. People can get this information whether researching at a desktop or standing streamside looking at a smart phone.”

Take a look at some of the “NJ highlights”  - I wish EPA made strict enforcement of the Clean Water Act as high a priority as providing information via websites and trendy user friendly app’s.



















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This is What Sea Level Rise Might Look Like

April 19th, 2014 No comments

High Tide After Full Moon on Delaware River In Bordentown, NJ

Bordentown Beach (4/17/14)

Bordentown Beach (4/17/14)

Walking the dog late Thursday afternoon and noticed high tide had submerged benches and picnic tables.

We had rain Tuesday, the river was flowing high, and a full moon, so the tide was as high as I’ve seen it.

Saw a couple taking photos, and thought these might be good images for showing what the effects of sea level rise might look like – which is an abstraction for most folks.

Stopped to talk with them, and met Eva and Rodney Hargis, who graciously agreed – here are their shots.

I don’t think most folks understand what projected 3 feet of sea level rise by 2050 or permanent inundation would mean – barrier islands submerged – but people can relate to pictures of submerged park benches and do understand the tides.

For those interested in reading an excellent report on climate impacts on the Delaware River Basin, see this University of Pennsylvania study (2008).



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Vapid Sound Bites Proliferate As We Surrender Democracy To Corporate Oligarchs

April 18th, 2014 No comments

Princeton Research Concludes that US is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

Governor Christie Provides A Road Map To How Oligarchs Rule

NJ Media Ignores the Issue

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism. ~~~ Princeton University Professor Martin Gilens

We’ll get to the boxed quote above in a minute.

For those that don’t get into the weeds to follow the internal workings of government – or are too lazy to file an OPRA public records request and conduct a file review – the Mastro interview summaries provide a revealing Cliff Notes glimpse into how the Christie government operates.

I’m an in the weeds guy, so I stayed up practically all night reading the DEP summaries -

One would assume that everyone would question why 11 of the 75 interviews were of NJ environmental officials (including 1 former DEP manager now in the Gov.’s Office) – and what role DEP played in the Rockefeller development controversy at the heart of the most potentially criminal part of the scandal.

Do reporters think it is appropriate and standard operating procedure for the Gov. to have his political arm (Office of Intergovernmental Affairs) arrange a series of private Commissioner and high level DEP meetings with a major corporation like the Rockefeller Development Group to discuss DEP regulatory approvals for a billion dollar development project?

So, over the last few days, I’ve been reaching out to reporters covering the various Christie scandals to try to explain what the Mastro interview summaries reveal about how Governor Christie governs.

Or more specifically, how corrupt and beholden to corporate economic interests and the Gov.’s political agenda the DEP has become.

Let’s just say reporters have no interest in any of that.

For the most part, they prefer to focus on the scandal aspects – as opposed to the governing or policy aspects – of the story, and lazily write the Mastro cover story, e.g. Most of Hoboken Sandy Energy Grants not scored due to errors, memo’s show

Or write vapid bullshit like this:

(and Matt Katz is one of the better reporters now working at the best media outlet, in terms of serious coverage of public policy issues.)

Which brings us to the boxed quote above.

This morning, I came across that finding from a research paper published by a Princeton University professor – in straight forward statistical regression analysis, the paper demonstrates that the US is an Oligarchy, not a democracy or representative democracy.

Professor  Gilens’ paper confirms the prior theoretical work of another Princeton professor, Sheldon Wolin, laid out in his masterpiece book: Democracy Incorporated – Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism

[Robert Reich dubs it "The New Gilded Age" - while Mat Taibbi writes of  American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap]

One would think that Princeton study a rather newsworthy finding, no?

One would think it is not hard to use the Rockefeller influence on Gov. Christie and DEP as a perfect illustration of that research.

So, why isn’t that story being written? Especially after the NY Times opened the door in a scathing expose, see

The Mastro DEP summaries lay the story out on a silver platter.

But instead of serious reporting about how the Rockefeller Development Group got Gov. Christie’s support and a series of closed door meetings with the DEP on regulatory approvals – and what kind of reforms must be enacted to end those abuses –  we get more vapid blather from the press corps.

No wonder we’ve surrendered democracy to the corporate Oligarchs.

They’ve got the best media money can buy.

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Congrats To Union College Hockey On National Championship

April 16th, 2014 No comments

Cornell Knocked out of ECAC & NCAA Tournament By Eventual National Champion

Congratulations are in order for Union College, who won their first national championship on Saturday in Philadelphia, at the NCAA Frozen Four.

Just remember Union fans that – with  a few breaks – it could have been very different – photos of Union v. Cornell ECAC semifinal game in Lake Placid NY on March 21, where Cornell was eliminated.

first period

open net!



point blank shot from the slot


good chance

good chance for deflection





crashing the net

Union defenders blocked lots of shots










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A Different View of Fenimore Streams Is Revealing

April 16th, 2014 No comments

Roxbury Residents Sold Out and Misled

Latest news on the Fenimore landfill fiasco is that the local politicians have bowed to Gov. Christie and now support the DEP’s closure plan. The support of local politicians comes over their residents’ strong objections and demands to “truck it out”, see:

That sell out story is no surprise here, because I always knew Jim Rilee and the Fenimore Fools were unprincipled cowards who would never defy Gov. Christie and would sell out their residents to maintain loyalty to Gov. Christie.

But, in reading the news story, I decided to hit the link and read what I thought was the Township’s independent consultant’s Report.

Right off the bat, I questioned the consultant’s independence, given their prior solid waste work, relationship with DEP, and state “LSRP” license – all that gives them financial incentives not to rock the boat, retain viability as a consultant, and not alienate or limit access to DEP. And curiously, the Report was addressed to and prepared for Mr. Bucco, not the Township, so I will call it the “Bucco report”.

I had no time this morning to read the “Bucco Report” in detail, so I scrolled through the table of contents and saw something about streams. I’ve seen the streams there so was interested in what the Report said about them.

The “Bucco Report” says this about the nearby streams that are impacted by the landfill:

Two streams flow around the landfill property. One stream flows downhill in an easterly direction south of the landfill, and the other stream flows downhill in a southeasterly direction north of the landfill. These two streams converge outside of the landfill property to the east and form a tributary of Drakes Brook (see Appendix I for a detailed report). Sampling of these streams as recent as March 2013 did not show any impacts from the landfill; see Figure 12 for a map of sample locations. As mentioned before, a program to sample these streams as well as existing groundwater monitoring wells on a regular basis should be developed and implemented as part of any closure option.

Having walked the landfill perimeter on October 15, 2011 and seen the streams with my own eyes (and camera) and having some knowledge of the health of NJ’s streams and the impacts of landfills on streams, I found that statement very hard to believe. No impacts on those streams from the landfill? No impacts from the upstream development? What?

When I toured the site, I saw leachate breakout from the landfill slope flowing into streams, various solid waste disposed in streams, and significant stream bank erosion caused by storm water runoff from the landfill (and upstream development).

All these observations strongly suggest chemical, biological and physical water quality impairment.

So, I stopped reading the Bucco Report and scrolled to Figure 12 and Appendix I to look at the sampling locations and the so called “detailed report”, including sampling methodology, and water quality  and biological monitoring data.

There are longstanding DEP approved water quality assessment methods and tools to assess water quality so that DEP can determine “impairment” and compliance with Clean Water Act standards. Did the “detailed report” follow these technical protocols?


Figure 12 shows the location of 3 sample sites, which don’t look like they are located in streams. No data or methods are provided.

Appendix I does not provide any “detailed report” on the streams or any analysis of the impact of the landfill on the water quality or ecological health of the streams.

Appendix I is an extremely narrow and misleading rebuttal of a straw man argument (i.e. whether “SEP deposited waste on an existing stream that flowed across the surface of the landfill”. Here is the stated objective of Appendix I – it certainly is not a “detailed report and does not even attempt consider water quality impacts of the landfill, as clearly implied in the text of the Report. Here is the objective of Appendix I:

This report has been prepared in order to document our findings of the location of the Fenimore Landfill with respect to existing streams. The assessment was initiated in order to explore the validity of comments made by a Roxbury resident (Carlos Robert Mederos) that SEP deposited waste on an existing stream that flowed across the surface of Fenimore Landfill (the Landfill). It is our understanding that this statement was made based on personal knowledge that the SEP landfilling operation was in part upon an existing stream. The individual did not have any evidence to that effect and we conducted an investigation to assess the validity of his statement.

So what the Report did on the stream issue practically amounts to a lie. I hope that is not an indication of the credibility of the rest of the report, but I am not optimistic in that regard.

Along with the incomplete and highly misleading text of the Bucco Report on streams, I found even more misleading photos. Go look at the stream photos in that Report, and compare them with my own photos below (all shot on 10/15/11):

waste disposed outside LF permitter and property boundary - leachate seep

waste disposed outside LF perimeter and property boundary – leachate seeps

leachate seep and runoff from landfill flows into streams

leachate seep and runoff from landfill flows into streams – note orange iron content


drums on slope of landfill

drums on slope of landfill


runoff from landfill creates erosion

runoff from landfill creates erosion


over 5 feet high stream bank erosion downstream of landfill

Top right – over 5 feet high stream bank erosion downstream of landfill


more severe stream bank erosion - this is a physical "impairment"

more severe stream bank erosion – this is a physical “impairment”


DEP remedial action in progress public notice sign at entrance gate: New World Engineering!

Read the DEP remedial action in progress public notice sign at entrance gate: Matrix New World Engineering!

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