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New Jersey Municipalities Gaining Control of Stormwater

TRENTON, New Jersey, February 18. 2008 (ENS) – A new report from the Department of Environmental Protection, DEP, demonstrates that New Jersey’s municipalities are making progress toward implementing programs that will reduce the impact of pollutants carried into the Garden State’s waterways through stormwater runoff.

The report released last week shows that 532 of New Jersey’s 559 regulated municipalities, or 95 percent, have adopted stormwater management plans that detail how they will address polluted runoff.

A total of 512 municipalities, or 92 percent, have adopted the required stormwater control ordinances that implement the management plans.

“The cumulative impacts of stormwater runoff pollution are profound, accounting for 60 percent of the pollution in New Jersey’s waterways,” said DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson.

“I commend municipal governments for recognizing the scope of the problem and taking the steps necessary to control the myriad pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides, animal wastes, automotive fluids, roadside litter and excessive sediments that pose today’s biggest threats to the health of our surface waters,” she said.

In addition to municipalities, New Jersey’s municipal stormwater control program regulates all counties as well as many federal, state, and interstate agencies.

During the three years the program has been in existence, more than 83,000 tons of street sweepings have been collected. Nearly 508,000 sewer catch basins have been inspected and more than 39,000 stormwater outfall pipes have been mapped and inspected.

In addition, more than 291,000 tons of sediments, trash and debris have been retrieved from storm sewers, preventing these materials from entering the state’s waterways, the report shows. Stormwater runoff pollution is ubiquitous and degrades water quality in many ways, yet many people do not realize they are contributing to the problem, said Jackson.

For example, typical lawn fertilizers accelerate algae growth that ultimately reduces oxygen needed by fish and other aquatic life, sedimentation caused by improper construction chokes out aquatic plant habitats, and trash thrown onto roadways gets carried through storm drains into creeks and rivers.

Many of these problems can be addressed through public education, simple lifestyle changes, and changes to local zoning requirements, said Jackson.

The report shows that most municipalities have adopted pet waste, litter, wildlife-feeding and yard waste ordinances.

Most municipalities have distributed educational brochures to their residents and have held community outreach programs.

Since the DEP launched the municipal stormwater regulation program in April 2004, the department has conducted 1,347 compliance inspections designed to assist the regulated entities.

The DEP has also issued a total of $669,000 in penalties for various breaches of municipal permit conditions, including 48 penalty assessments totaling $524,000 in 2007.

The agency assesses penalties when municipalities or other entities fail to meet certain conditions such as cleaning of catch basins and sweeping of streets, submission of required reports, and adoption of specific ordinances that carry out the aims of the program.

For a copy of the report, detailed information on compliance, and enforcement information, go to: www.njstormwater.org

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