Home > Uncategorized > Despite Christie Veto, EPA Pushing NJ DEP on Barnegat Bay TMDL

Despite Christie Veto, EPA Pushing NJ DEP on Barnegat Bay TMDL

photo by Asbury Park Press

photo by Asbury Park Press

In some good news, it looks like there’s behind the scenes progress on reversing Governor Christie’s veto of the Barnegat Bay “Total Maximum Daily Load” (TMDL) bill (for details on that, see:  Governor Christie’s Veto of the Barnegat Bay TMDL Bill – What It Really Means

According to another great story by Kirk Moore in today’s Asbury Park Press: Biological index would measure Barnegat Bay’s health – EPA pulls for nutrient limits:

BARNEGAT BAY –” By the middle of next year, scientists could have a new biological yardstick for measuring the health of Barnegat Bay, consisting of multiple factors that can help track where nutrient pollution comes from and its effect on bay life.

Such an index would be a long-sought tool in ongoing efforts to restore the bay to health.

For years, environmental advocates have called for tough standards on the amount of nutrients entering the bay” mostly nitrogen compounds from fertilizer and stormwater runoff that, over time, alter bay ecology at a basic level.

“The sea grass begins to decline, and you have less habitat for the fish and crabs,” said Michael Kennish, a research professor with the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University, who is heading the effort to build a biometric index for the bay. “The science is clear on this: What you need to do is get a reduction in the nitrogen.”

As a result, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is pushing the state Department of Environmental Protection to establish nutrient limits. They would be known as TMDLs” total maximum daily loads” said John Sess, a spokesman for the EPA’s Region II office, which has worked closely with the state for years on Barnegat Bay. …

Setting hard and precise TMDLs ultimately could give DEP legal and regulatory authority to enforce protections for the bay. That would include buffer zones around tributary streams and fixing upstream pollution sources as they are found, according to Bill Wolfe of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a former DEP employee who used to work on TMDL plans.

We recently have had conversations and have been pushing EPA to enforce the Clean Water Act’s TMDL requirements in NJ, especially on Barnegat Bay. So we are pleased to see EPA publicly supporting those efforts.

However, it is unclear at this time exactly how EPA is intervening, so we must reserve judgement until we have reviewed the documents to be assured that they are enforceable commitments, not press soundbites.

As we wrote, a TMDL has been legally mandated for Barnegat Bay since 2002. According to a EPA/DEP Memorandum of Agreement, a TMDL must be completed by NJ DEP no later than March 31, 2011.

Much more to follow – We will keep you posted as this issue develops.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
You must be logged in to post a comment.