Tag: NJDEP

Water Infrastructure a major topic at NJDEP Budget Hearing

On Monday, April 8, 2019 water infrastructure was a major topic at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s hearing on the agency’s spending blueprint.

With thanks to Jersey Water Works for compiling the set of questions and answers related to water infrastructure below. Topics include Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), Water Quality Accountability Act, lead in drinking water, Statewide Water Supply Plan, Natural Resource Damages, Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

The full transcript is available here.

On Maximum Contaminant Levels for PFAS in drinking water (page 3):
What are the considerations in adopting the standards recommended by DWQI? What is the plan for implementing MCLs for New Jersey public water systems? If there is not a plan, why not? What is the timeline for implementing MCLs for New Jersey public water systems? If no timeline is set, why not? The rate occurrence for New Jersey vs. the nation noted in the question refer to PFOS. The rates are even more concerning for PFOA, which were detected in nearly 11% of samples in New Jersey as part of the same sampling effort as compared to 2% nationwide. PFAS contamination is not unique to New Jersey but it does occur at a higher rate here. That’s why New Jersey continues to be at the forefront with respect to both the science and the regulation of these contaminants.

Pursuant to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the Department is authorized to promulgate MCLs after considering the recommendation of the Drinking Water Quality Institute (DWQI) if there are adverse health effects associated with a contaminant and the contaminant may be found in public water supplies in New Jersey. At the Commissioner’s direction, the Department can move forward to propose and adopt an MCL as an amendment to the NJ Safe Drinking Water rules. The adoption of an MCL includes not only the setting of a standard but also establishes which water systems will need to monitor for the contaminant and at what frequency. The rulemaking process also necessitates an evaluation of the costs incurred by water systems to test and treat for the contaminant. The Department authors an economic impact statement that may include estimates of the cost of treatment based on likely occurrence and of testing based on current prices and the number of those systems required to test. Water systems may comment, at this time, on the accuracy of the cost estimates, as well as other implementation issues, such as frequency of monitoring and the availability of waivers to reduce or discontinue monitoring.

During the rule process, implementation decisions are made that include the timeline and impact of the potential rule requirements on all public water systems. This may vary depending on the specific contaminant that is being addressed, associated health effects (i.e. chronic vs. acute), occurrence, analytical capability, and similarity to other regulated contaminants. The Department considers existing Federal or State monitoring frameworks in making this determination, since these serve as the groundwork for monitoring requirements. Most frameworks set forth four quarters of initial monitoring at public water systems, as well as additional requirements based on the results of this initial monitoring.

DEP finalized an MCL for Perfluorononanoic Acid (PFNA) and 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (1,2,3- TCP) on September 4, 2018. DEP proposed MCLs for Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and appeared in the April 1, 2019 New Jersey Register. DEP asked the DWQI to add 1,4 dioxane to their work plan, DWQI recently closed a “Call for Information” regarding 1,4-Dioxane, and members are reviewing relevant literature. A meeting where updates will be discussed is expected to be scheduled in late spring or early summer. DWQI is working to establish a schedule and priorities for the review of other contaminants of emerging concern.

On implementation of the Water Quality Accountability Act (page 7):
Does the department intend to propose rules to implement the WQAA? Yes, DEP has held two stakeholder meetings (November 27, 2017 and October 22, 2018) which were used to discuss, with stakeholders, the requirements of the Act, to discuss DEP’s concepts for the proposed WQAA rules, and to develop a strategy for its effective implementation. Discussions during the second stakeholder meeting specifically focused on how requirements of the WQAA would be codified, clarified the asset management requirements, and introduced the concept of water loss audits as a replacement for the annual unaccounted-for-water submission. DEP also discussed with the stakeholders the possibility of increasing situations in which it may request Technical, Managerial and Financial (TMF) capacity information from water systems. The DEP intends to propose WQAA regulations by the end of 2019.

How does the department intend to enforce and oversee implementation of the law? With the development of a centralized portal, the Department will be able to receive all materials related to this rule in an electronic format. The data submitted will be evaluated by the Department in order to more accurately identify the status of water systems as they comply with the tenets of the rule and WQAA. Additionally, the increased amount of data that will be provided to the Department will allow more precise analysis of the status of water systems. This will follow in the spirit of the NJ Joint Legislative Task Force, which identified the need to provide technical assistance to struggling systems prior to failure, rather than after. Certification statements made by water systems will also be evaluated for accuracy, particularly if a water system is under an Enforcement action. The Department will not allow the submittal of paper documents once the portal is available. Until the rule is adopted and the portal is operational, DEP has notified all applicable systems that their Asset Management Plans must be made available for review by Compliance and Enforcement. DEP also noted that the systems will be required to certify that their Asset Management Plans have been implemented by the annual certification deadline, which is October 2019.

Will the department review each water system’s asset management plan? No. Asset Management Plans are primarily meant to assist the water systems. Asset Management Plans and programs are complicated and system-specific.

Following the Water Quality Accountability Act, 287 public water systems in NJ which have >500 service connections were required to develop Asset Management Plans by April 19, 2019. Water systems will be required to self-report the status of their plans in an Annual Certification statement in October 2019. Compliance and Enforcement (C&E) staff is also examining asset management plans during site inspections. Rulemaking has also been initiated to codify the Act’s requirements into the Department’s regulations. DEP is working to assure that all public water systems have asset management programs through the following:

Phased enforcement of Regulatory Requirements
Principal Forgiveness for Financing Asset Management Program Development and Asset Management Plans/ Condition of State Financial Support via the Environmental Infrastructure Financing Program
Condition of Compliance and Enforcement Terms
Partnerships with NGOs and Industry Associations and Water System Operators.

The DEP does not currently have staff with the skill sets needed to conduct detailed reviews of Asset Management Plans and programs. The DEP is developing a program that relies primarily on the certification of Asset Management Plans by responsible entities, annual reporting of routine metrics and inspections. The DEP will be proposing to require the annual submission of itemized metrics to the centralized portal. The Department proposes to make these metrics publicly available through “Data Miner,” which will allow the public at large to compare the metrics from different water systems, and thereby improve accountability and transparency. Some examples include, but are not limited to: Water main breaks per mile of water main in previous year; Percentage and miles of water mains replaced in the previous year; Number of lead service lines in distribution system; Number of lead service lines replaced in the previous year; Infrastructure leakage index (a metric within the American Water Works Association (AWWA) audit which shows how well a Distribution system is managed with respect to leakage); Unaccounted real losses; Total volume loss; Data validity score (a measure within the AWWA audit which evaluates the trustworthiness of the data included in the audit); Number of violations, (e.g. M&R and MCL); Water rates (cost per 1,000 gal); Net asset value over previous five years; Net debt as a percentage of revenue; and Percentage of Vacancies. Submission of metrics will demonstrate improvements and actions taken by water systems. The Department will also require systems to self-report on the status of the implementation of the Plans thru an annual certification statement signed beginning October 2019.

Does the department have sufficient staff and resources to implement the WQAA effectively? Currently, the DEP is relying on the certification required in the Act. Once the regulations are adopted, DEP will rely on the review of electronically reported metrics for review; however, additional staff may be needed to implement a water loss program.

On lead in drinking water (page 11)
Does the department intend to propose updates to the federal LCR? If not, why not? What else is the department doing to protect the public, and children in particular, from lead in drinking water? The DEP is considering whether changes to the Lead and Copper Rules are appropriate. We are looking at how we could address issues such as Lead Service Line Replacement, Corrosion Control Treatment, Tap Sampling, Public Education and Transparency, Copper Requirements. In addition, the DEP works in partnership with the Infrastructure Bank to provide low cost financing for capital improvements to water infrastructure. The DEP Commissioner establishes funding priorities and the allocation of principal forgiveness as part of the Intended Use Plan. The recent DEP Intended Use Plan (issued final on March 22, 2019) includes the allotment of $30 million dollars to provide up to 90% principal forgiveness for lead service line replacements for eligible water systems.

What else is the department doing to protect the public, and children in particular, from lead in drinking water?

DEP continues to implement and enforce the federal regulations to the fullest extent possible. In January 2015, the Division began a self-assessment and determined that improvements were necessary to ensure consistent implementation of the Rule throughout the State.

DEP continues to coordinate with the USEPA, the New Jersey Governor’s office, other NJ state agencies, including New Jersey Department of Health, non-profit organizations, and states around the country to better assist systems protect their customers, i.e., the public, from lead in drinking water.

DEP continues to assist water systems like Newark and Trenton with funding drinking water system infrastructure projects, such as lead service line replacement, through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the NJIB.

Is the department taking any additional steps to educate and inform the public about the existence of lead in drinking water and the possible existence of lead service lines at their homes and businesses? If so, how? If not, why not?

Yes. DEP is routinely working with the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee, and has participated in past public outreach events, including First Lady Tammy Murphy’s community festivals. Several additional groups have recently contacted the Division to seek assistance; therefore, the DEP hopes to bring all entities together to focus on the common goal of exposure reduction by developing readily accessible resources.

The DEP updated its website, focusing on different groups, including consumers, with helpful information specific to each group.

The DEP provides technical assistance and review of public education/notices that are developed by water systems that go out to the public once an action level exceedance is identified to ensure that all information is clear and accurate.

Regarding the presence of LSLs, the DEP and a majority of the water systems do not know the location of LSLs in the state. This is not just an issue in New Jersey, many water systems in the U.S. are facing a similar challenge. DEP has been working with water systems to make good faith efforts to identify the LSLs through regular maintenance activities, review of water system and municipal records, during water main breaks and customer inquiries, and if necessary reaching out to customers.

DEP recently requested that all community water systems provide an estimate of the number of LSLs in their system. These values will be data managed internally and will be used by the DEP to make decisions on areas to focus on in the future.

The Lead and Copper Rule does not require water systems to inform property-owners if they have a LSL. As mentioned above, many water systems do not have accurate records of the exact locations of LSLs in their system. In addition, many water systems in New Jersey only own the portion of the service line between the main and the curbstop; and therefore, do not have records or control over what materials are located on the property-owner side. Though not required by the LCR, some water systems, like Newark Water Department, have websites indicating the location of known lead service lines, and some water systems, like Trenton Water have information on their website on helping customers determine if they have a lead service line.

Does the department intend to require water systems to complete lead service line inventories? Yes. In January 2019, the Department required all community water systems to submit initial summaries of lead service lines (LSL) inventories on a form provided by the Department. The Department is not aware of any nontransient noncommunity water systems in New Jersey having a LSL. Technically per the LCR all Community Water Systems and Non-Transient Non-community Water Systems should have completed a materials evaluation when the rule took effect, which would have included information on LSLs; however, it was not required to be submitted to the State.

The Department is primarily collecting lead service line information from the water systems as part of the Lead and Copper Sampling Plan reviews. As DEP calls sampling plans in, we have also been requesting the number of LSLs to be included in the plan. If the water system is unsure, they must include a plan on steps they will take moving forward to identify LSLs in their system. In addition, in February 2019, the Department requested the total number of Lead Service Lines from the remaining community water systems that have not been required to submit their sampling plans. Approximately 80 systems still need to submit this information. However, many water systems do not have accurate information on the location and number of lead service lines in their distribution system. Many of the water systems’ records are dated and inaccurate and there is no easy method for identifying lead service lines in the field. In addition, many systems in New Jersey do not own the entire service line; therefore, if changes have been made on the homeowner side of the service line, the water system may not have been informed.

The department plans to manage the LSL inventory summaries and rely on the systems to manage the actual inventories. The systems are in a better position to ensure that the inventories are accurate and updated as needed.

What does the department estimate would be the cost to public water systems and to the State of such a requirement? Although it is unknown at this time exactly how many lead service lines are in existence in New Jersey, AWWA estimates the number to be approximately 350,000. Assuming an average replacement cost of $6,500/line ($3,000- 10,000 depending on location), it is estimated it would cost approximately $2.3 billion to replace all LSLs in New Jersey. This estimate does not consider those additional costs associated with identification and planning for the replacement of these lines.

Does the department intend to require more water systems to conduct lead service line replacement? In accordance with the Federal LCR, systems are only required to conduct lead service line replacements after corrosion control treatment has been installed and that system receives an ALE. Currently, there are three water systems in the State that are required to replace lead service lines under the LCR; Newark, Trenton and Suez/Hackensack. However, the DEP does recommend that customers proactively replace their lead service lines.

How has the NJIB spent the $30 million it has made available for lead service line replacement projects? Does the department or NJIB anticipate that any additional funding will be made available for such projects? If so, when could the additional funding be anticipated? The Department has set aside $30 million for principal forgiveness for LSL replacement projects. The LSL replacement program offers 90% principal forgiveness and 10% funding from DEP at 0% interest for communities with a median household income (MHI) less than the MHI for the county in which they are located. Project applicants are capped at $1, 5 or 10 million per water system per year per water system based on population served by the water system. The Department prioritized the replacement of lead service lines by offering up to $30 million of grant like funding (principal forgiveness) under the Environmental Infrastructure Financing Program. Under the recently finalized State Revolving Fund Intended Use Plan, which sets out the Department’s funding priorities, the Department will offer 90% principal forgiveness for a total project cost of up to $10 million dollars for a large system that meets affordability criteria. The Department has also received applications from water systems that do not exceed the lead action level but are interested in replacing lead pipes. These systems are eligible for the base program, under which funding is prioritized by project rank over readiness to proceed. Funding for LSL replacement is a priority both nationwide and for the Department. However, with only $30M available for principal forgiveness, there are still a limited number of projects that can be funded. The need throughout the State surpasses the current amount of funds available.

On the Statewide Water Supply Plan (page 14):
Does the department intend to issue any updates or revisions to the Statewide Water Supply Plan? If not, why not? If not through the vehicle of the Statewide Water Supply Plan, how will the department provide guidance to policymakers, water supply providers and the public to ensure the future availability and protection of our water supply? Yes, the Department plans to provide an update to the Water Supply Plan. The Plan will use the robust data that was published in 2017 to develop several Statewide policies, with focuses on climate change (develop a climate change adaption plan), deficit areas, agriculture water use, asset management, and water supply emergency and resiliency planning.

The Department is also working on updating the data that will be used to inform the 2022 Statewide Water Supply Plan.

The DEP ensures the protection of available supplies. The water allocation permit review process evaluates a number of factors including: available stream flow during low flow conditions, aquifer drawdowns, potential impacts to surrounding water systems and individual wells, etc. and relies on regional water supply studies provided by US Geological Survey (USGS). In addition, the DEP uses the information contained within the Water Supply Plan to inform decisions regarding the issuance of new or increased allocations.

The safe drinking water permit programs also ensure that there is adequate supply and infrastructure prior to approvals to extend drinking water service. The Statewide Water Supply Plan provides an important vehicle to estimate regional water supply demands, existing approved supplies the potential to meet those demands while protecting the new or increased sources.

On revenues from Natural Resource Damages (page 18):
Please describe the process by which projects funded from this revenue source are selected and prioritized for submission to the Legislature. Is there any public participation in the project selection process? In addition to the requirements of the Constitution, is there a formal project grading or evaluation system that informs project selection and prioritization? NRD Restoration project funding is administered through DEP-lead projects and competitive granting programs (discussed in later bullet).

To determine the types of DEP-lead projects to be funded using NRD recoveries, DEP’s different programs identify projects of types of projects appropriate for funding and DEP conducts stakeholdering to develop and scope project concepts. These stakeholders include federal (NOAA, USFWS, NMFS, USEPA, USCOE), and local government agencies, government working groups (NY/NJ Harbor Estuary Program, Harbor Spill Governments Committee, etc.), environmental groups (NY/NJ Baykeeper, NJ Audubon, River Keeper Network, Nature Conservancy, etc.), and local community groups (Newark Ironbound CC, Friends of Liberty State Park, Camden SMART, etc.). Through public participation, stakeholders are not only involved in project identification, but are consulted through project development and design.

Unless a project or type of project is selected through a grant solicitation, DEP does not rely on a formal grading or evaluation system in identifying projects for selection and prioritization. However, DEP does evaluate projects based on several guiding principles, including: projects should be consistent with Constitutional Amendment; projects should seek to restore the same resource that was injured; larger projects should seek to be transformative, in terms of ecological or human use; projects should be considered based on the degree of environmental uplift (ecological and/or human use benefits); projects should achieve the greatest environmental uplift while minimizing administrative processes and overhead costs; and projects should be sustainable, with minimal ongoing operation and maintenance requirements.

Does the department intend to develop a grant and loan program to award natural resource damage monies to local governments and nonprofit organizations for projects? If so, how much money or what percentage of natural resource damage collections does the department intend on setting aside for such a program? What would the criteria be for eligible recipients and eligible projects for the grants and loans? How would applicants apply? How would the department choose recipients? How would the department ensure that the NRD monies were used for qualified NRD purposes by the recipients of the grants and loans? DEP has administered approximately $75 million worth of competitive grants using NRD recoveries and anticipates continuing this practice with a portion of current and future recoveries. Of the $99,371,295 in MTBE recoveries identified in the recent appropriations bill (S3110/A4578), approximately $20 million is proposed to be allocated statewide and $10 million in the Hudson-Raritan estuary for grants/loans to municipalities and public entities for water quality, water supply, and wastewater improvements.

Pending evaluation of presently nominated potential restoration projects, some portion of the additional $50 million supplemental appropriation identified in S3110/A4578 will also be available for competitive grants in the Hudson-Raritan estuary drainage for habitat restoration and public access enhancement.

In addition to municipalities and public entities, non-profit environmental or community groups will also be eligible for grant funding if they satisfy specific grant solicitations criteria.

Eligible recipients and eligible projects will be determined by specific grant solicitations as different allocations of the recoveries will require specific types of projects in specific geographic areas. For instance, the $20 million identified in S3110/A4578 for statewide water supply and wastewater improvements, will be administered through DEP’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund program. This program may have specific requirements that differ from other programs receiving NRD recovery funding. In addition to providing funds to established granting programs, DEP may also solicit grant proposals to conduct restoration through means other than established granting programs.

Applicants can apply to specific grant solicitations by submitting proposals that satisfy conditions and specifications of the solicitation. Choice of recipients will be based upon criteria identified in specific solicitations and will likely consider criteria such as project applicability, level of benefit provided, project readiness, likelihood of success and ability to cost share. All grants will likely be issued as reimbursement grants. Reimbursement will only be made available upon grantee’s compliance with a post-award grant agreement and verification that all necessary funding is available to completely construct the project.

On the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (page 27):
How much money does the department need each year to provide matching funds in order to receive the federal SRF capitalization grants? How much money does the department currently have for this purpose, and when does the agency anticipate that it will run out of funds? What other sources of revenue is the department using to make the State match? The Department needs to provide a 20% match for the State Revolving Fund capitalization grants, so the amount of match varies depending on the amount of the annual federal grant. The Department generally need between $3-4 million per year in Drinking Water SRF match funds and $13.5 million for the Clean Water SRF.

The Department currently has approximately $29 million in DWSRF match funds available (May 2019). This will provide about 10 years in match money for the DWSRF. The CWSRF currently has an estimated $8.6 million in available match funds remaining from SFY2019, which when added to resources for SFY2020, would give the CW program approximately $25.2 million in match funds.

The Department is using 1981 bond loan repayments as DWSRF match. In addition to the $29 million available, approximately $55 million is anticipated to be repaid in the future, for a total of about 21 years of match. The CWSRF has identified resources totaling approximately $67.5 million in match funds, which are projected to be exhausted in SFY2022.

Should the Legislature consider a more permanent source of revenue for clean water and drinking water infrastructure projects, for instance, as it has for the Green Acres program? Does the department have any recommendations for new revenue sources to support these projects and the State’s match? Yes. For the past 32 years, the DEP and I-Bank have leveraged available State and federal funds (provided to the DEP through the State Revolving Fund Capitalization Grant Program) with publicly issued tax-exempt bonds to maximize capital improvements for water infrastructure. The totals for low interest long term loans over this period is $6.85 Billion, saving New Jersey ratepayers and estimated $2.54 billion in interest costs and principal forgiveness. This is also estimated to have translated into an over 130,000 direct construction jobs.

The need for water infrastructure improvements is expected to outpace available funding in State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2019 for Drinking Water and SFY 2027 For Clean Water. While the DEP is considering several steps to try to address the shortfalls, for example by moving funding from the clean water program to the drinking water program, these are not permanent solutions. Additional State funding is needed. We look forward to working with the Legislature to find a solution.

NJDEP Municipal Stormwater Infrastructure Mapping Tool

On Monday June 18, the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership and Middlesex County hosted a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection training session for communities interested in learning how to use NJDEP’s new stormwater infrastructure mapping tool. This ArcGIS field app tool utilizes handheld devices to assist municipalities with meeting requirements of their municipal stormwater permits. It is available free-of-charge to municipalities and partners authorized by the municipality. Almost 50 participants learned how to automatically upload stormwater infrastructure data to NJDEP servers, overlay data with DEP maps to assess the location of waterbodies in relation to stormwater infrastructure, and more.

The workshop began with an overview of the recently renewed municipal stormwater permit requirements provided by NJDEP’s Matt Klewin. A pdf of Mr. Klewin’s presentation can be found here:

NJDEP – Municipal Stormwater Permit Requirements update June 2018.

Tim Ebersberger then presented a brief overview of how to visually assess the quality of existing stormwater infrastructure, assisted participants with tool download, and demonstrated tool function (how to log in and activate the collector application) before attendees ventured out for hands-on usage of the mobile mapping application.

Mr. Ebersberger’s presentation can be found here:

NJDEP_Stormwater_Mapping_Training_6.18.2018

NJDEP will ensure that municipalities interested in this project that do not hold a current ArcGIS license will be provided with a license free-of-charge. Please contact Tim Ebersberger for more information:

Tim Ebersberger, NJDEP Bureau of Nonpoint Pollution Control

609-633-7021

timothy.ebersberger@dep.nj.gov

June 18 Stormwater infrastructure mapping training with NJDEP

The NJDEP has developed a new stormwater infrastructure mapping tool to assist municipalities with meeting the requirements of their municipal stormwater permit. This ArcGIS field app will be available free-of-charge to municipalities and partners authorized by the municipality.

On Monday June 18, the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership and Middlesex County will host a NJDEP training session for communities interested in learning how to use this new stormwater mapping tool. The training session will be held at the Middlesex County Fire Academy in Sayreville, and will run from 9-1pm (including lunch). Pre-registration required.

Here’s an overview from NJDEP as to why communities should use their new Stormwater Mapping Tool:

-Ease of use
-Data is automatically uploaded to DEP servers
-Overlay data with DEP maps to assess the location of waterbodies in relation to stormwater infrastructure
-Municipalities without a current ArcGIS license will be provided with one free-of-charge

The workshop will also include an overview of the recently renewed municipal stormwater permit requirements, as well as a short presentation on how to visually assess the quality of existing stormwater infrastructure.

Lunch will be provided. RSVP required.

For questions: hfenyk@lowerraritanwatershed.org

NJDEP rollbacks on soil contaminant remediation

On September 18, 2017, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) issued a Notice of Administrative Change impacting the soil remediation standards for 19 contaminants. The standards have been updated to reflect U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revisions to the toxicity data for the affected compounds, as listed in the EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System database. The updated standards became effective immediately upon issuance of the Notice.

The soil standard changes include less stringent residential and non-residential standards for several so-called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), typically found in historic fill here in New Jersey, including benzo(a)anthracene, benzo(a)pyrene and benzo(b)fluoranthene. For the compounds known as chlorinated volatile organics (CVOCs), notable changes include less stringent residential and non-residential soil standards for tetrachloroethene (PCE) and more stringent residential and non-residential standards for tricholorethene (TCE).

Public Health Statement for PAHs
https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/PHS/PHS.asp?id=120&tid=25

CDC statement on tetrachloroethene (PCE), most commonly used in dry-cleaning

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/idlh/127184.html

A Notice of Administrative Correction to the Notice of Administrative Change was also published for two of the compounds, hexachloroethane and 1,1,1-trichloroethane.

DEP Announces response strategy for algal blooms

NJDEP Announces Response Strategy for Harmful Freshwater Algal Blooms, Seeks Public’s Help to Identify Suspected Incidences

Statewide Effort to “Avoid It and Report It” Includes Online Form for Reporting Suspected Blooms

Seeking to minimize health risks for people and animals, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has developed a strategy for a unified statewide approach in responding to incidents of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in freshwater bodies across the state.

Under the new “Avoid It and Report It” effort, anyone who sees a suspected bloom resulting from cyanobacteria may contact DEP through its toll-free hotline or the WARN NJDEP app for smartphones and tablets. In addition, a new website ( http://www.state.nj.us/dep/wms/HABS.html) has been launched to coordinate important information and response activities. Alerting DEP to the suspected blooms quickly can help protect public and animal health and freshwater resources.

“Expanding our ability to respond to Harmful Algal Blooms, establishing preparedness procedures, and making information about these blooms more readily available to the public enables DEP and its partners to better protect the health of those who use New Jersey’s lakes and streams for recreation,” said Dan Kennedy, Assistant Commissioner for Water Resources Management.

Most algal blooms observed in New Jersey’s waterways are harmless and are not cyanobacteria. They result from too many nutrients causing excessive blooms of naturally present algae.

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae are usually a bright green, but can also appear as spilled paint, “pea soup,” or as having a thick coating or “mat” on the surface. They can often be confused for typical algae blooms. Cyanobacteria are also naturally present in lakes and streams in low numbers.  Under suitable environmental conditions – sunlight, high nutrients, warm temperatures and calm water – dense cyanobacterial blooms can form.  Cyanobacterial blooms do not always produce toxins, but when they do the blooms can pose a risk to people, pets, livestock and wildlife if exposure occurs by ingestion, inhalation of contaminated water, or dermal contact.  Rashes can occur when cyanobacteria cells come in contact with skin.

When a suspicious bloom is observed, people are advised to Avoid It and Report It by following these steps:

. Avoid contact with water in the vicinity of the bloom, especially in areas where the bloom is dense and forms scums;
. Do not drink or consume the water;
. Do not eat fish from the waterbody;
. Keep pets and livestock away from the water;
. Do not allow animals to drink the water, eat dried algae, or groom themselves after coming into contact with the water;
. People, pets and livestock that come into contact with a bloom should rinse off with fresh water as soon as possible;
. Seek medical attention or a veterinarian if a person or animal is experiencing adverse health effects after exposure to a bloom; and
. Report a suspected HAB by calling the DEP Hotline at 1-877-WARNDEP (927-6337) or send a mobile alert through the WARN NJDEP mobile app (available via iTunes, Google Play or Windows Phone).

The new response strategy, developed jointly by the DEP and the state Department of Health (DOH), with technical input from the state Department of Agriculture, protects the public from risks associated with exposure to cyanobacteria and related toxins.

While the primary focus of the strategy is protection of human health, it also provides information on how to prevent exposure to domestic animals and livestock. The New Jersey Water Monitoring Council and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water provided technical input and review of New Jersey’s HABs strategy.

The response strategy covers freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams with potential public access, recreational use, and bathing beaches (including licensed beaches).  While these waterbodies may also be sources of drinking water in New Jersey, the focus of the response strategy is recreational use.  DEP works closely with drinking water systems to plan for HABs as well as all other drinking water emergencies.

The strategy includes:
. Procedures for reporting suspected cyanobacterial HABs;
. Information regarding which agencies/organizations are responsible for responding to an HAB report and what actions are to be taken;
. New Jersey recreational risk thresholds;
. Acceptable methods for conducting monitoring and analysis;
. Recommended advisory language; and
. A process for developing a HAB research plan.

Based on information from the U.S. Geological Survey, 19 states had public health advisories for cyanobacterial blooms in August 2016. With the release of the new response strategy, New Jersey joins more than 30 other states who have developed HAB strategies and/or HAB public awareness informational materials.  So far this summer, New Jersey has responded to nine confirmed or suspected HABs in lakes and streams.

The new NJDEP HAB-focused website, found at http://www.state.nj.us/dep/wms/HABS.html , contains information on both freshwater cyanobacterial HABs, and a variety of marine water HABs. Highlights include an electronic cyanobacterial HAB Reporting Form, downloadable Advisory signs and flyers for use for HAB events, a general cyanobacterial fact sheet, and a more detailed fact sheet on recreational exposure and health effects related to cyanobacterial HABs. General information about cyanobacterial HABs, what to do if people or pets are exposed, links to the EPA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s HABs websites and other resources, as well as a gallery of both HAB and non-HAB photos of lakes and streams, are also provided.

For questions regarding the freshwater harmful algal bloom strategy, call DEP’s Bureau of Freshwater and Biological Monitoring at (609) 292-0427 or email mailto:njcyanohabs@dep.nj.gov

To learn more about the NJ Water Monitoring Council, visit http://www.nj.gov/dep/wms/wmcchome.html

For more about DEP’s Division of Water Monitoring and Standards, visit http://www.nj.gov/dep/wms/

The new NJDEP HAB-focused website, found at http://www.state.nj.us/dep/wms/HABS.html, contains information on both freshwater cyanobacterial HABs, and a variety of marine water HABs. Highlights include an electronic cyanobacterial HAB Reporting Form, downloadable Advisory signs and flyers for use for HAB events, a general cyanobacterial fact sheet, and a more detailed fact sheet on recreational exposure and health effects related to cyanobacterial HABs. General information about cyanobacterial HABs, what to do if people or pets are exposed, links to the EPA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s HABs websites and other resources, as well as a gallery of both HAB and non-HAB photos of lakes and streams, are also provided.

NJDEP confirms bald eagle nest in Monroe

Article by Joe Sapia

On Tuesday, I was talking to Kathy Clark, a biologist who has long been involved with the bald eagle restoration project for the state Department of Environmental Protection, and she surprised me with a question:

Do you know about the bald eagle nest at Route 33 and Applegarth Road?

Wow, no, I did not.

“It’s probably been there for two years,” said Clark, who works for the Endangered and Nongame Species Program in DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife.

But the state only found out about it in time to monitor the nest this year. And it fledged one chick! The nest is to appear in the state’s 2017 report, which will be out around the beginning of next year. Apparently, the nest will be listed as the “Upper Millstone” nest because of the Millstone River corridor in that area.

From 1970 to the early 1980s, New Jersey had only one confirmed nest — in the Delaware Bay area. In 2016, New Jersey had 172 nests. Of the 172, 150 had eggs, producing 216 fledglings.

The comeback of bald eagles, “Haliaeetus leucocephalus,” is attributable to the 1972 United States banning of DDT pesticide, which worked itself into the food chain and resulted in fragile eagle eggs. Also, in New Jersey, the DEP has done a considerable job with managing an eagles comeback.

Since the comeback era of eagles, Monroe has never had a confirmed nest. So, this is a rather big discovery – one proving there is a lot to save in Monroe environmentally and specifically in terms of open space. Otherwise, the nearest confirmed bald eagle nests to Monroe, based on the 2016 report, are in the areas of Cheesequake State Park/Old Bridge, East Brunswick/New Brunswick, Princeton, the Six Flags Great Adventure area, and Fort Dix. The state also believes there is a nest at the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area. Another nest is likely in the Old Bridge area, but the state lost track of that nesting pair in 2015.

Despite the comeback of the bald eagle, it remains in New Jersey an “endangered” breeder – that is, in immediate jeopardy as a breeder – and “threatened” in general – that is, in danger of becoming “endangered” if conditions deteriorate.

The Monroe nest will really be a test to see what the township and its residents are made of environmentally. I have not seen the nest, but know the property it is on. It is private property that looms for development. And the nest is incredibly close to existing development and we have seen how the Route 33-Applegarth Road intersection is developing.

As Clark noted, “It’s quite built-up.”

It is unknown why the eagles picked this spot, one that is not on a body of water, for example, for its preying on fish.

Clark said the eagles look for: “Is there a foraging area? Is there a tree that will support a nest in the long run?”

Or a utility tower, even.

The nests are huge, perhaps 4 or 5 feet in diameter, 2 to 4 feet deep – with the birds adding onto the nest each year. The largest documented eagle nest was 9-1/2 feet in diameter, 20 feet deep, weighing about 6,000 pounds, according to the National Eagle Center.

This nest is relatively close to Cranbury Lake, Hightstown Lake, Etra Lake, Perrineville Lake, and Jamesburg Lake, so there are bodies of water around.

Because eagle nests are so fragile – this one with the added development pressure around it – I am not giving out the exact location. One, there is no need to get close to the nest – think of it as the eagle’s bedroom, a private place. Two, knowing the nest is in the general area, people should have ample views of eagles flying over the area – and there are various wide-open views in the nest area. Plus, I suspect the sightings people are reporting – at Thompson Park, at the Monroe Library, around the Route 33-Applegarth Road area, one even on road-kill in downtown Jamesburg several days ago – are these birds. Three, there are severe federal penalties regarding human interaction with eagles. (It is illegal in general to even own an eagle feather.)

Mature eagles, about 30 inches in height, with a wingspan of almost 7 feet, are easy to spot – huge brown birds with white heads and white tail-feathers. But it takes eagles years to reach maturity, so they do not get the adult colors until they are 4- or 5-years-old.

What can we do?

One, if you know the location of the nest, do not publicize it.

Two, if you know the location of the nest, stay away from it – as in hundreds of feet away. Photo opportunities are better with flying eagles than nesting eagles.

Three, move road-kill off roadways. If the eagle decides to take advantage of road-kill, at least it will not get hit by a vehicle if the road-kill is off the roadway.

Four, think environmentally. Monroe’s new obsession with a magazine-photograph lawn around a McMansion on what was woods or farmland only a few years ago is ridiculous.

Five, put pressure on developers and government officials to go green.

Too bad the Township Council cut the open-space tax rate. It went from bringing in at estimated $1.8 million annually, down to an estimated $900,000. Had it stayed where it was, all that extra money would have come in, without a hike in taxes, for open space purchases.

As for the Monroe eagles, let them soar!

See https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Bald_Eagle/id

See https://www.fws.gov/midwest/eagle/protect/index.html

Joe Sapia, 60, is a lifelong Monroe resident. He is a Pine Barrens naturalist and an organic vegetable-fruit gardener. Joe’s work also is at @JosephSapia on Twitter.com, along with Facebook.com on the Jersey Midlands page.

NJDEP – Notice of Rule Proposal CZMA, FWPA, FHACA

NJDEP – Notice of Rule Proposal

July 17, 2017

Coastal Zone Management Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7
Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7A
Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:13
Proposed amendments, repeals, and new rules

PUBLIC NOTICE
Take notice that the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (Department) is proposing amendments, repeals, and new rules to the Coastal Zone Management Rules in response to issues identified through stakeholder outreach and to address other issues that have arisen since the July 6, 2015 adoption of the consolidated coastal rules. The proposed amendments are related to shellfish aquaculture, filled water’s edge, dune walkovers and other beach and dune development, CAFRA findings, V zones, scenic resources and high-rise structures, permits to apply herbicide, trails, building access in flood hazard areas, application requirements, and rule rationales. Amendments and new rules are additionally proposed in the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules and Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules as part of the Department’s continuing effort to align the three land use permitting programs to the extent possible.

The proposal is scheduled to be published in the New Jersey Register dated July 17, 2017. A copy of the proposal is available at http://www.nj.gov/dep/rules/proposals/20170717a.pdf and from LexisNexis free public access to the New Jersey Register, www.lexisnexis.com/njoal.

Public hearings concerning the proposal are scheduled as follows:

Thursday, August 10, 2017, at 6:00 P.M.
City of Long Branch Municipal Building
Council Chambers, 2nd Floor
344 Broadway
Long Branch, NJ 07740

Tuesday, August 15, 2017, at 10:00 A.M.
Campus Center Theater
Stockton University
101 Vera King Farris Drive
Galloway, NJ 08205

Written comments may be submitted electronically by September 15, 2017 at http://www.nj.gov/dep/rules/comments; or in hard copy to:

Gary J. Brower, Esq.
ATTN: DEP Docket No. 11-17-06
NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Office of Legal Affairs
Mail Code 401-04L; PO Box 402
401 East State Street, 7th Floor
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

April 17 – General Meeting

Our April 17 meeting will focus on stormwater management, and will include a discussion of regional approaches to stormwater management.

The agenda will include an overview of federal expectations with respect to MS4 requirements, with Matt Klewin (NJDEP) presenting on “Update on Changes in the New MS4 Revision”. Manville Borough Administrator Andrea Bierwirth will speak about challenges to meeting MS4 requirements in the upper portion of the watershed.

The meeting will be held from 10-noon in the Middlesex County Planning Offices at 75 Bayard Street, New Brunswick, NJ – 5th floor mid-size conference room.

Parking is validated for those parking on floors 5 and higher in the RWJ Wellness Parking Deck located at 95 Paterson Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901. Be sure to bring your ticket to the meeting for validation.

For more information contact Heather: hfenyk AT lowerraritanwatershed DOT org

Entry #1 – On New Jersey’s Environmental Values

Article by LRWP Board President Heather Fenyk

Starting from a belief that enduring environmental values will help us withstand current shifts in political winds, the LRWP is initiating a series of short blog posts to reflect on the normative standards that structured the last several decades of environmental politics in New Jersey.

Throughout this series we will draw attention to those actions that relate most directly to improving the the health of our Lower Raritan Watershed. We will also highlight other successful regional approaches that we can learn from to benefit our Lower Raritan River and local streams. Topics will include state-based policy making as well as alternative approaches including court actions, collaborative politics, and “private” pathways e.g. land trusts, consumer purchasing power and business actions to achieve sustainability. We also expect to explore mitigation banking, and proposals for stormwater utilities. In short, we want to identify a compendium of actions that might be brought to bear to further protect, enhance and restore our central New Jersey environmental landscape.

In this first entry we observe that while federal legislative changes may not currently be pro-environment (see our blog post here on environmental headlines), alternative pathways to positive environmental outcomes can be as simple as holding our state Department of Environmental Protection accountable for specific promised actions to protect our rivers, streams and watersheds. For example, we can regularly check in with NJDEP to request updates on the following on-going initiatives:

-Toxics reductions initiatives

-Water Quality Standards

-Maintaining the NJDEP water quality program

-Non Point Source reduction planning

-Communication of EPA/NJDEP TMDL prioritization work

-Legislative updates

-Permits updates

-Innovations

-Grants and loans, funding opportunities and state priorities review

 

Institutionalization of all the above on-going project and program efforts at NJDEP speaks to a on-going commitment to environmental priorities for New Jersey’s future. As environmental non-profits and concerned citizens we must regularly articulate our expectations associated with these priorities and hold NJDEP accountable for meeting our expectations.

NJDEP – Rescheduled Public Hearing FWPA Rules July 22

48 N.J.R. 1349(a)  

NEW JERSEY REGISTER
Copyright © 2016 by the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law

VOLUME 48, ISSUE 13

ISSUE DATE: JULY 5, 2016

RULE PROPOSALS

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
LAND USE MANAGEMENT


48 N.J.R. 1349(a)

Proposed Amendments: N.J.A.C. 7:7-6.4, 15.2 and 25.1; 7:7A-11.1; and 7:13-1.2, 6.7, 7.8 through 7.12, 7.29, 7.56, 7.58, 7.61, 8.5, 8.6, 8.8, 8.13, 9.5, 9.6, 9.8 through 9.10, 11.2, 12.5, 12.14, 13.1, 13.2, 13.6, 13.7, 13.8, 13.14 through 13.20, and 20.1

Proposed New Rule: N.J.A.C. 7:13-13.4

Click here to view Interested Persons Statement

Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules

Coastal Zone Management Rules

Notice of Rescheduling of Public Hearing

Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules

Take notice that the Department of Environmental Protection (Department) is rescheduling the public hearing on proposed amendments and new rules in the Flood Hazard Area Control Act (FHACA) Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:13, Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7, and Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7A, PRN 2016-084. The proposed amendments and new rule were published in the New Jersey Register on June 20, 2016 at 48 N.J.R. 1014(a). The Department has rescheduled the hearing date as indicated below.

A copy of the notice of proposal is available at http://www.nj.gov/dep/rules and from LexisNexis free public access to the New Jersey Register, www.lexisnexis.com/njoal.

A public hearing concerning the notice of proposal is scheduled as follows:

Friday, July 22, 2016, at 10:00 A.M.
NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Public Hearing Room
401 East State Street
Trenton, NJ 08625

Submit comments by August 19, 2016, electronically at http://www.nj.gov/dep/rules/comments. The Department of Environmental Protection (Department) encourages electronic submittal of comments. In the alternative, comments may be submitted on paper to:

Gary J. Brower, Esq.
ATTN: DEP Docket No. 05-16-05
NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Office of Legal Affairs
Mail Code 401-04L
[page=1350] 401 East State Street, 7th Floor
PO Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402