New Interpretation of NJDEP Water Quality Requirements in Special Water Resources Protection Areas

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) assigns an ecological classification to each stream in New Jersey. The highest classification is called Category 1 (C1). The areas located within 300 feet of C1 streams are called Special Water Resources Protection Areas (SWRPA). These areas are important since many NJDEP regulations are more stringent for projects located within a SWRPA. One example includes the rules governing the amount of water quality treatment required in a SWRPA. According to the regulations, projects within a SWRPA that require water quality treatment must ensure that 95% of total suspended solids (TSS) are removed from “new discharges” located within the project area.

Until recently, this meant that runoff from new impervious areas would be subjected to the 95% TSS rate, while existing impervious areas disturbed for the project would require 50% TSS removal. However, NJDEP personnel are now consistently requiring 95% TSS removal for all pavement areas (new and existing) included in a project that triggers a need for water quality treatment within a SWRPA.

How will this affect a project located within a SWRPA? Essentially, larger and/or additional water quality treatment measures (detention basins, infiltration facilities, and manufactured treatment devices) may need to be designed and submitted with the permit application. The increased effort associated with this must be incorporated into project budgets and schedules prior to the finalization of contracts with our clients.

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