Home > Uncategorized > Documents Show DEP Agreed To Plumsted Sewer Permit Concessions Months Before The Public Review Process

Documents Show DEP Agreed To Plumsted Sewer Permit Concessions Months Before The Public Review Process

DEP Deal Makes A Sham of the Public Process & Violates Clean Water Act

Documents show that the Plumsted Municipal Utilities Authority (PMUA) met privately with DEP officials regarding the DEP’s review of the proposed new sewer plant to serve the massive Lennar development, and that DEP agreed to a critical permit condition months before the draft permit was subject to public review.

Private meetings with permittees are not unusual or improper. However, private agreements prior to public review – especially those that violate DEP’s Surface Water Quality Standards – are highly irregular and totally improper.

Worse, DEP took steps to cover their tracks and mask this prior private concession by omitting the “smoking gun” document from the list of documents provided in the draft permit.

Federal and State rules require that DEP identify all documents and correspondence related to how they derived the permit’s technical requirements.

Both actions are highly improper and are grounds for rejection of the permit by EPA or a Court of law for violation of the public process requirements regarding the issuance of Clean Water Act permits.

Specifically, a September 9, 2014 letter from Peter Ylvisaker Executive Director of Plumsted MUA to DEP supervisor overseeing the PMUA NJPDES permit transmitted an “Addendum” to the prior Socio-Economic Analysis.

Importantly, that September 9, 2014 letter references a prior July 22, 2014 DEP meeting, in which DEP made critical and huge concession to allow lower water quality limits for total dissolved solids (TDS):

pmua antideg2

pmua antideg

If these excerpts are difficult to read, let me be specific here.

The PMUA Executive Director explicitly stated that at the July 22, 2014 meeting, DEP agreed that to the PMUA’s request:

“At our July meeting it was agreed the Analysis did provide sufficient justification for the lowering of the non degradation water quality limits for Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)”.

The letter goes on to note that repeat that DEP agreement on TDS at the close of the letter.

I  guess PMUA doesn’t realize that it is very bad form to put improper DEP deals in writing.

THe DEP’s concession on TDS was absolutely critical, because it is very difficult, if not impossible – without extremely costly treatment technology – to meet the effluent limits for phosphorus, which requires biological treatment that is supplemented by addition of other chemicals, without violating the DEP’s surface water quality standard for TDS, which is 500 mg/L (or lower):

No increase in background which would interfere with the designated or existing uses, or 500 mg/L, whichever is more stringent. 

DEP agreed to a TDS limit of twice that, 1,000 mg/L.

Now here’s where it gets even worse, as DEP intentionally excluded this PMUA letter from the documents listed in the draft permit in an obvious effort to cover their tracks.

Recall that the September 9, 2014 PMUA letter transmitted to DEP a May 10, 2014 Addendum to the Socio-Economic Analysis.

Here is how the DEP draft permit  (@ page 12) identified that May 10, 2014 PMUA Addendum, completely omitting the September 9 transmittal letter smoking gun:

8. “Addendum to the Socio-economic Analysis for the Plumsted Township Wastewater Treatment Plant” prepared by Van Cleef Engineering and HDR Hydroqual, dated May 30, 2014.

Note also how the DEP list of “Correspondences” in the draft permit (@ page 12) also omits the September 9, 2014 PMUA letter, but does include a subsequent PMUA October 17, 2014 letter:


  1. Letter dated January 13, 2014 from Tom Jenq, PhD, P.E. to Peter Ylvisaker, Executive Director for PlumstedMUA, Regarding the Anti-Degradation Study for the Plumsted Township Proposed Wastewater TreatmentPlant-Conclusion.
  2. Letter dated October 17, 2014 from Peter Ylvisaker, Executive Director for Plumsted MUA to Nancy Kempel,Supervising Environmental Engineer, Regarding the TDS limitation request of 1,000 mg/L.

DEP knew that the PMUA September 9, 2014 letter revealed highly improper behavior on their part and they therefore omitted it from the record on the draft permit.

The coverup is always worse than the crime.


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  1. Marc Covitz
    December 30th, 2014 at 14:32 | #1

    I’m noticing that with the exception of the draft permit link, many of the other links to the letters and DEP correspondence are coming up as “Internal database errors” or blank pages. Seems someone caught wind of your investigative reporting and decided to remove the evidence.

  2. January 27th, 2015 at 21:07 | #2

    @Marc Covitz

    Marc – just checked that out – al the links on this post work for me.

    Are you sure?

    Or are you referring to links in a different post?

  1. June 21st, 2016 at 00:05 | #1
  2. February 21st, 2020 at 21:22 | #2
  3. March 9th, 2020 at 19:35 | #3
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