Tag: Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act

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

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

Fighting Clean Water Rules Rollbacks – What You Can Do

One of the first things most 3rd or 4th graders learn in earth science is that water runs downhill. By 6th or 7th grade kids can make the connection between pollution of waters uphill and contamination larger waterways in lower lying areas as the polluted water flows downhill.

The Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership thinks that rationale ought to be enough to include small river tributaries, headwaters and wetlands under the federal Clean Water Act to ensure protections for the waters of the United States (WOTUS). Despite the important role these waters play in keeping our environment, and our drinking water, clean and healthy the EPA is seeking to rollbacks protections.

In June the EPA issued its proposal to repeal the “waters of the United States regulation,” also known as the Clean Water Rule, that clarifies protections for headwaters, seasonal streams and wetlands. The Clean Water Rule clarifies protections for the headwaters, seasonal streams and wetlands that feed drinking water supplies for more than 117 million Americans, and protects the wetlands that provide critical flood storage and wildlife habitat. If the Clean Water Rule is repealed, federal protections will be reversed on 60 percent of U.S. streams and 20 million acres of wetlands. What is the goal of this policy reversal? To make it easier for these already-vulnerable lands to be used for extractive projects: open-pit mining, gas fracking, tar sands oil and other pipelines, all uses with tremendous impacts on our local ecologies, especially our local water systems.

If you think that our New Jersey streams and wetlands are protected because earlier generations in the Garden State had the foresight to create the nation’s strongest freshwater wetlands protection measures (the 1987 New Jersey Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act), think again. Since 1990 our Lower Raritan Watershed has lost 3,461 acres of forested wetlands, 2,891 acres of emergent wetlands, 1,086 acres of agricultural wetlands, and 593 acres of disturbed wetlands (Sustainable Raritan River Initiative, 2016). Negative effects of wetlands loss in the LRW include an intensification of flooding of our communities, and pollution loading in our Raritan River and area streams. And earlier this year the NJ Department of Environmental Protection submitted FWPA rules revisions proposals that significantly cut protections from these valuable lands (6.25.2017 – public comment on FWPA). Furthermore, a reduction in protections in neighboring New York and Pennsylvania – states without strong protection measures – will mean that pollution in those states will roll downhill right into New Jersey’s waters.

A NJSpotlight analysis indicates that this rollback could threaten more than half of New Jersey’s streams and wetlands, and could compromise drinking water for up to 6 million people. By repealing these federal and state rules we put polluter profits ahead of the needs of our communities, businesses, and environment. Repealing these rules is an assault on basic protections for clean water that puts millions at risk.

But here’s the thing — the EPA won’t get rid of the Clean Water Rule without public input. We need to flood the EPA with our comments. We need members of Congress and businesses speaking out. We need citizens demanding their elected officials fight for our right to clean water.

Here is a sample of some of the messages that ordinary people who want the existing rules on clean water strengthened have shared with the EPA. Please consider sharing your message, the comment period is open until August 28:

I am extremely fond of breathing clean air and drinking clean water, I would like these things to be available to my children and grandchildren. Please keep the regulations in place that help protect our air and water. Short term profits for corporations do not outweigh the long term benefit of a healthy environment.

As one of a majority of Americans I do not support any weakening of regulations that insure that we have clean water, clean air and healthy soil. I support the clean power regulations to reduce air pollution from coal plants. Those regulations will save many lives … Do not weaken the ability of the EPA to protect our clean water, soil and air.

Please work to keep our water, air, and land clean and safe for all people. Regulations that protect the water we drink, the air we breathe, the land where our food is grown, where our children play, the open spaces that people and animals need and enjoy should not be removed. This means that existing regulations on mining, industry, farming and other activities that require safe practices and healthy outcomes are also essential. Keep America clean and healthy for all.

The current administration has made it clear that their intent is to jeopardize the health of the planet in order to enrich the pockets of the fossil fuel industry … The blatant disregard for the quality of our country’s air and water is disheartening and will not be forgotten in upcoming election cycles.

Environmental Headlines – May 2017

The following include May 2017 highlights of local/state news-worthy environmental concerns, as well as national headlines to watch:

New Jersey Water Supply Plan Update: After a 20 year wait, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection released a 2017-2022 Water Supply Master Plan Update. Specific to the Lower Raritan Watershed and our “Central Drought Region” are proposed Capital Improvement Projects including a North/South Branch Confluence pumping station, the Kingston Quarry Reservoir, water transfers from central to coastal North Drought Regions and the Six Mile Run Reservoir (pages 74-77).

New Jersey Freshwater Wetland Protection Act (FWPA) Rules Amendments: The NJDEP is proposing comprehensive amendments to NJ’s FWPA. These amendments propose significant revisions particularly to mitigation rules, and also to transition area (freshwater wetland buffer) impacts. Of note is that the proposed revisions increase the degree to which transition areas can be impacted by development. Written comments will be accepted until June 30th.

Rollbacks on Obama-era climate rules: Last week the Federal Highway Administration announced that it will delay the effective date of Green House Gas emissions analysis and air quality studies on US Interstate roadways.

Rollbacks on Pesticides: The Hill reports that House passed legislation last week to loosen federal regulations on pesticides. The “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017” would reverse a 2009 court decision that requires that anyone applying pesticides secure a general permit under the Clean Water Act, opening the door to increased pesticide impacts on our waters.

Trump to pull out of Paris Climate Accord: Reuters reports that the United states will no longer be part of the landmark Paris Climate Agreement designed to reduce impacts of global warming.

National Sea Monkey Day (May 16) is Reason to Celebrate New Jersey’s Vernal Ponds

By: Heather Fenyk

Part of the fun of reading comic books when I was a kid was coming across ads for the absurd: Monster Size Monsters! X-Ray Vision Glasses! Kung-fu Sandals! (AUTHENTIC! Worn for Centuries by Oriental Fighting Masters!) But my absolute favorite adverts included invitations to “Own A Bowl Full of Happiness.” For just 49¢ plus $2.99 shipping, you could raise your own “trainable” insta-pet, the Sea Monkey.


Sea-Monkey ad from 1970’s comic book

Sea Monkeys fall into a general group of organisms including brine shrimp and “fairy shrimp” that, with the proper mix of nutrients and chemicals, can be stored in dry form and then “revived” with a dose of plain tap water.

Recent rains have nourished our New Jersey swamps and freshwater marshes, transforming seeming terra firma into vernal or ephemeral ponds. These ponds – or more specifically their “fairy shrimp” inhabitants – get me out in the field looking for Sea Monkeys.

The descriptive terms for these freshwater wetland types — “vernal” and “ephemeral” — refers to their habit of appearing in spring and being short-lived or temporary. Many vernal ponds in New Jersey and elsewhere were not protected during the post-World War II building boom. But with the passage of the New Jersey Freshwater Wetlands Protection Action in 1987, all freshwater wetlands – including these temporary wetlands – were finally granted protection. Fairy shrimp benefit directly from these protection measures.

A common species of fairy shrimp in our New Jersey vernal ponds is Eubranchipus vernalis. It grows between 0.5 and 1.5 inches in length, and other than its forked tail and large, stalked, compound eyes, its most obvious features are the 11 pairs of feathery appendages it uses for swimming, breathing and feeding. It collects algae, bacteria, protozoa, rotifers, and detritus on the feather-like structures and transfers that material to its mouth by other appendages. In addition, it will scavenge dead tadpoles, mollusks and amphibian eggs.

Eubranchipus vernalis

Eubranchipus vernalis. Image from www.bugguide.net

The shrimp’s reproductive strategy is fascinating. After mating, the male dies. The females are easily distinguished from males by the egg-filled brood sac on their abdomen, and the sac contains one of two types of fertilized eggs depending on the density of males in the pond. A low density of males results in thin-shelled “summer eggs,” which have a very short incubation period and hatch inside the brood sac. A high density of males results in thick-shelled “winter eggs” that eventually fall to the bottom of the pond and remain there even when the pond dries out. They will hatch the following spring, when the pond refills, and they have an amazing capacity to withstand extreme elements, including temperatures that are probably never encountered in nature: from a high of just below boiling (210 degrees) to a low extreme of -310 degrees.

The powdered thick-walled eggs of fairy shrimp are the type that my sister Julie purchased in 1978 from the back of an Archie Comic Book. It is this egg stage that enables the fairy shrimp to be distributed to other potential vernal ponds. Fairy shrimp eggs are tiny, dry granules that can be blown by the wind or picked up on the feet of animals and carried to other vernal ponds. These thick-walled, dry eggs remain viable even after 15 years, and the eggs are supposed to hatch 30 hours after being submerged in water.

Sadly, Julie’s order of Sea Monkeys never hatched. While she was perhaps permanently scarred by being duped into purchasing a package of powdered brine shrimp, I remain suckered in by the advertising and happily spend spring weekends exploring New Jersey’s vernal pools looking for my own Sea Monkeys to train.

Happy National Sea Monkey Day!