News Feature | January 8, 2014

EPA, New Jersey Clashing Over Water Quality Rules

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

trentonreg

The EPA is lobbying New Jersey lawmakers to oppose a proposal it sees as potentially harmful to tap water. 

At issue is legislation under consideration which would limit the construction of sewer lines and septic systems on certain properties in the state, according to the Record

This "would continue a five-year delay of regulations that were meant to protect drinking water supplies," according to the article.

The EPA is lobbying New Jersey lawmakers to oppose the bill. 

"In an email sent Thursday to several state senators, the EPA’s top official for New Jersey and New York, Judith Enck, urged the legislators to vote the bill down and 'take all appropriate steps to accelerate, and not further delay, the planning and management processes necessary to protect the state’s vital and precious water resources,'" the Record article said. 

The bill would push back a Jan. 17 deadline "for water quality plans to be submitted to the state and would provide another two years for compliance," PolitickerNJ reported. It cleared the state's Senate Budget Committee on Monday.

The same measure has been approved in the past. 

"Originally, counties were to have submitted wastewater management plans by April 2009. That deadline was extended twice – once by the Department of Environmental Protection and once by the Legislature – but it is due to expire this month," the report said. 

Environmentalists claim the bill would roll back Clean Water Act protections, according to the Star-Ledger. While proponents say it would only simplify current rules, the opposition says it goes beyond that.

"For instance, it would double the amount of sewage proposed housing developments can discharge while still being eligible for an exemption to local water quality plans. It would also eliminate a stipulation that such developments meet the technical requirements of the state Water Pollution Control Act," the report said.

The New Jersey Home Builders Association said the bill will help the economy. 

“Without an extension of the law, the threat of withdrawal of sewer service areas will resurface and will create considerable angst for the business community,” Robert Fallone, the association’s president, said recently, according to the Record

Image credit: “Trenton makes, the world takes," © 2013 DearEdward, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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