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Clean Water Anyone?

April 21st, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments
DEP Hearing Officer Jeff Reading summarizes clean water proposal

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) held a public hearing today on a proposal designed to protect NJ’s rivers, streams, bays and oceans from pollution discharged by hundreds of industrial and sewage treatment plants. DEP administers a permit program under the federal Clean Water Act to “restore, maintain, and enhance” water quality and ensure that NJ’s waters are “fishable and swimmable”.

14 DEP staffers observe public hearing – one person showed up to testify

While NJ has made great progress since the days when rivers caught fire and raw sewage was discharged, the fundamental goals of the Clean Water Act remain unmet in almost 70% of NJ waterways. As a result of excessive levels of pollution, it is unsafe to fish or swim in most waters in NJ, and drinking water supplies are increasingly threatened. (see:NEW JERSEY ADMITS 970 RIVERS AND LAKES POLLUTED — State Tries to Bury Report http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=684
New scientific evidence suggests that unregulated chemicals – like prescription drugs and endocrine disruptors – and under-regulated pollution sources continue to threaten water supplies and ecosystems. Due to an aging wastewater infrastructure, DEP has estimated that over $16 BILLION in new pollution controls is required to meet Clean Water Act standards. (See: HUGE NEW JERSEY WATER INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS NOT BEING MET — State’s Economic Future Threatened by Not Investing in Environmental Quality http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=764
Thus, the need to do more and to tighten regulations to protect water quality grows stronger.

But despite this growing need and extremely high levels of public concern with water quality in NJ, no one showed up to testify.

sewage treatment process at Middlesex County Utilities Authority plant.

Historically, the Clean Water Act permit program regulations have been a high priority of NJ’s environmental community. Environmental groups have sued DEP, harshly criticized DEP for lax oversight, and called for far tougher regulations. Just weeks ago, environmental groups expressed concerns about the proposal, particularly a controversial program to promote reuse of industrial wastewater and sewage treatment plant effluent – See Environmentalists cool to state’s new initiative http://www.northjersey.com/environment/Recycling_wastewater.html

Raritan River, near MCUA discharge pipe.
The Raritan River and Bay receive millions of gallons per day of wastewater discharges from industrial and sewage treatment plants.

Full disclosure: I was the only one who showed up to testify.

For the folks out there who care about clean water, I urge you to get involved. Here is a link to the proposal and additional information – (see: FEDS SAY NEW JERSEY WATER STANDARDS DO NOT PROTECT WILDLIFE — Bald Eagles, Falcons, Mussels and Others at Risk from Mercury, DDT and PCBs http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=927
The final hearing is May 8 in Bordentown.
Environmental Regulation
Division of Water Quality
Notice of Rule Proposal
New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System – N.J.A.C. 7:14A
Public Notice
Take notice that the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (Department) is proposing to readopt with amendments the New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NJPDES) rules at N.J.A.C. 7:14A. The Department also proposes related amendments to the Standards for Individual Subsurface Sewage Disposal Systems rules, N.J.A.C. 7:9A, the Water Pollution Control Act rules, N.J.A.C. 7:14, the Ninety-Day Construction Permit rules, N.J.A.C. 7:1C, and the Department Organization rules at N.J.A.C. 7:1. The most extensive amendments to the rules pertain to reclaimed water for beneficial reuse (RWBR); the method for calculating the fee for dischargers to ground water; the fee for authorizations under the stormwater construction general permit; residuals management; the effluent standard for acute whole effluent toxicity; and the industrial pretreatment program.
Public hearings concerning the proposal are scheduled as follows:

Middlesex County Utilities Authority regional sewage treatment plant.

Monday, April 21, 2008 at 10:00am to 1:00pm or the close of testimony
Rutgers Labor Education Center
50 Labor Center Way
New Brunswick, NJ 08903

MCUA regional treatment plant undergoing upgrades.

Thursday, May 8, 2008 at 1:00pm to 4:00pm and 5:30pm to 7:30 pm or the close of testimony
Rutgers EcoComplex
Environmental Research and Extension Center
1200 Florence-Columbus Rd.
Bordentown, NJ 08505
Written comments may be submitted until May 16, 2008 to:
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Alice A. Previte, Esq.
ATTN: DEP Docket No. 01-08-01/555
Office of Legal Affairs
PO Box 402
401 East State Street – 4th Floor
Trenton, New Jersey 08625

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  1. isbjorn1
    April 22nd, 2008 at 00:35 | #1

    OK, it’s confirmed. The major New Jersey enviros, who are supposed to be providing leadership & guidance for us ignorant peons, don’t care about New Jersey, don’t care about us regular folk who live here, or just don’t care–except about their visibility in the media.
    Or maybe they suffer from “revolving headline syndrome”–i.e., they can’t tackle more than one issue at a time, and just as it looks as if they may be able to accomplish something, the media bombards us with another issue, and the enviros jump into the fray, forgetting what they’d said, promised, or even done yesterday.
    Remember the old activists’ parable about the slimy reptile and the cute fuzzy mammal? No matter how important to the ecosystem the slimy reptile was, activists refused to take up its cause, preferring instead to embrace the cute, fluffy mammal. The reptiles became extinct, causing a domino effect and pretty soon, the cute fuzzies were gone as well.
    Is the ‘Save the Parks’ issue the cute fuzzy, and the clean water amendments the reptile?
    Do the enviros not realize that if we win the right to keep our parks open, but the waterways become increasingly polluted, swimming is hazardous because of the danger of contracting an illness from the toxic water and the fish caught are inedible, what will we have gained?
    They criticize the US EPA for inaction on a national program for pharmaceuticals in the waters, but what about pharmaceuticals in our own backyard? What better way to have an impact on this than to provoke some action right here, in one of the states that make up the nation?
    The only alert I received about this hearing (and I’m on many enviro lists) was from Scott Olson, who is not paid to do this, but sent it to the entire NJ Highlands list as part of his program to keep us aware and active.
    The only response was from you, Wolfe, sent to both the NJ Highlands and the Regional Highlands lists, urging us all to DO SOMETHING.
    So can no one in the well-funded and well-staffed enviros read? Were their e-mail programs all broken that day? Were the directors just too busy being focused on another issue to even send a staffer to testify? Or is this issue just not sexy enough?
    These organizations are funded for a reason: To give us guidance. To alert us to issues we, who are not paid to focus on such issues and are insanely busy making our daily bread, may not otherwise be aware of. To analyze such issues and give us the benefit of their knowledge and experience.
    They are failing miserably.
    Funders take note.

  1. February 1st, 2016 at 10:51 | #1
  2. February 8th, 2016 at 14:11 | #2
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