Monday, May 24, 2010

New Report Documents Failure of New Jersey Towns to Protect from Runoff and Enforce Law -- Now the Governor Needs to Listen

A new report was released today, Monday May 24, 2010, (New Jersey Stormwater Management Implementation – A Case Study of Hamilton Township) which documents:
  • improper implementation of New Jersey’s stormwater program at the municipal level; and
  • a failure by the State to oversee the program and to protect against local abuses, and damaged application of the law to development projects.

The report contradicts the findings of Governor Christie's Red Tape Review Group regarding the state stormwater program.  In Appendix H the Red Tape Review Group said there was a duplication of responsibility and effort by the DEP and the municipalities in the implementation of the stormwater program and that perhaps the DEP should be pulled out of the review process. 

This new report demonstrates that DEP absolutely must not be taken out of the review and implementation process of new Jersey's stormwater regulations.  The law, as currently written, is only flawed because it isn’t being fully or properly implemented and enforced, both at the municipal and state level.

Responding to concerns about the stormwater program the Delaware Riverkeeper Network hired 4 consulting firms to review a series of projects in Hamilton twp -- they looked for completeness, accuracy and compliance with the stormwater law.
  • Of the 12 projects we present in the review, projects complied with the law a pidly average of 42% of the time. 
  • When it came to using the nonstructural strategies so important to the NJ regs, compliance averaged an even worse 13%.
  • Likewise the report found troubling results in the state’s efforts to identify and respond to these dramatic shortcomings.

 The result of the failures of local municipalities and the DEP to ensure full and fair compliance with the state stormwater program is:
  • increasing flooding for communities like Hamilton Twp and downstream communities like Trenton;
  • increasing costs for communities in the form of emergency flood response, including police services and public works departments;
  • polluting and eroding streams in a way that undermines infrastructure, infects drinking water, damages businesses and jobs, damages recreation and associated ecotourism, reduces property values, and threatens health and safety of communities.

If the NJ Stormwater regulations were implemented as they are written, with both the state and municipalities participating, NJ communities would save and make money. 

For example, vegetated buffers, an important strategy that results from implementation of the NJ stormwater regulations,
  • Reduces the volume of runoff, filters pollution and prevents erosion. 
  • At the same time buffers can increase the value of nearby homes by 6 to 15%. 
  • "Pennypack Park in Philadelphia is credited with a 38% increase in the value of a nearby property." Forested buffers generate tax revenues for host communities – in fact, in the United States trees planted on private properties have generated over $1.5 billion in tax revenue.

 Protecting and restoring tree cover -- has saved some New Jersey communities billions of dollars in infrastructure that would otherwise be needed to manage stormwater runoff:
  • Protecting existing tree cover was found to have prevented 65 million cubic feet of stormwater runoff in the Big Timber Creek watershed here in New Jersey saving communities $3.3 billion in stormwater infrastructure.
  • In the Mill Creek watershed also in New Jersey, protecting existing tree cover prevented 6.7 million cubic feet of stormwater runoff saving the community $350 million in stormwater infrastructure.

Just  3 weeks ago the Delaware Riverkeeper Network issued another report – “River Values, the Value of a Clean and Healthy Delaware River” in which the organization documented that protecting our streams and rivers, with a particular focus on runoff issues, brings to our States and region irreplaceable jobs, economic revenue, tax benefits, and increased safety from illness, physical harm and from economic harm.

The Red Tape Review Group has it wrong – we need a strong stormwater program to protect the jobs and economies of New Jersey.  The way to get that in New Jersey is for the state to provide complimentary reviews and needed oversight so as to ensure full enforcement of the regulations we already have on the books. 

When we leave the program in the hands of municipalities alone, the results can be abysmal failure, as is illustrated by the problems documented in the Hamilton Township report. 

State participation in NJ’s stormwater program is not redundant, it is necessary!

No comments:

Post a Comment