New Permit System Requires Long-term CSO Discharge Reduction Plans and Enhanced Public Outreach

News | Raritan River Initiatives | Water Quality

The Christie Administration is taking steps to improve water quality in urban areas by requiring sewerage system operators to reduce a type of pollution to waterways known as combined sewer discharges, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin announced today.

As part of this effort, the DEP is issuing 25 permits to address 217 combined sewer overflow (CSO) discharge points, or outfalls, in the state. The new permits require operators, including municipalities and regional sewer authorities, to develop long-term control strategies, including gray infrastructure projects, such as holding tanks or lagoons, to store stormwater for later release, and green infrastructure projects, such as rain gardens and green roofs, to capture stormwater. Financing is available to help design strategies. Municipalities and system operators also must implement enhanced public notification strategies, including providing real-time information on potential discharges into rivers and other waterways. These permit holders already are required to maintain control technologies at outfalls to collect solids and trash, to prevent that material from entering waterways.

“Combined sewer overflows are a very serious public health and environmental problem in a number of New Jersey’s communities,” said Joan Leary Matthews, Director of EPA Region 2’s Clean Water Division. “These new permits will help lead the way to improved water quality.  EPA looks forward to continuing to work with the state of New Jersey and local communities to ensure that controls are in place to improve public health and our area waterways.”

The  permits address combined sewer outfalls in the following areas: Bayonne (30 CSO outfalls); Camden City (28); Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority (1); East Newark (1); Elizabeth City (28); Fort Lee (2); Gloucester City (7); Hackensack City (2); Harrison Town (7); Jersey City (21); Kearny Town (5); North Bergen MUA — North Bergen/Guttenberg (10); Newark City (17); North Hudson Sewerage Authority – Hoboken/ Weehawken/Union (8); North Hudson Sewerage Authority — West New York (2); Paterson (24); Perth Amboy (16); Ridgefield Park (6); Town of Guttenberg (1); and Trenton (1).

The DEP is encouraging multi-agency collaboration in efforts to deal with CSOs and is providing $500,000 in principal forgiveness loans through the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust for the development of regional integrated plans. The permits allow up to five years for the plans to be completed.

This approach gives communities an opportunity to establish their priorities, spread costs over time and integrate planning with other community improvement goals, such as green space development, flood prevention, traffic mitigation, and property value enhancement.

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