Latest subject of the city: Ask the State for better management of water quality | Hunterdon Review News

Mount Olive may soon be the last city to approve a resolution calling on the state to better protect local water quality.

So far, two municipalities, Holland Township in Hunterdon County and Knowlton Township in Warren County, have approved the application, he said. Mount Olive Township Council was scheduled to vote on the matter on Tuesday, February 8.

The resolution is at the request of the non-profit Musconetcong Watershed Association, the Asbury-based group that monitors the health of the Musconetcong River and its associated streams and tributaries, all located in the Highland region of the state.

The resolution calls on the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to “develop methods for identifying waters already used for recreational purposes to ensure that water quality in these areas is not not degraded by new discharges and to” promote the protection of drinking water aquifers, including waters in areas of carbonate rock.

Additionally, it calls on the state to “establish anti-degradation standards for small public water supply systems and highland region waters to protect drinking water quality” and “ maintain and improve water quality by protecting headwater streams from disturbance”.

The resolution further calls for the DEP to undertake these tasks with input from municipalities and other stakeholders.

Alan Hunt, director of policy and grants for the Musconetcong Watershed Association, said Friday, Feb. 4, that the requested resolution was part of a plan for local municipalities to encourage DEP to develop “quite practical approaches to Musconetcong “.

The Musconetcong is one of several bodies of water in New Jersey federally designated as National Wild and Scenic Rivers. According to Great Waters New Jersey, a nonprofit partnership between the Musconetcong Watershed Association, New Jersey Highlands Coalition, Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, Delaware River Greenway Partnership, Trout Unlimited and the Watershed Institute.

According to the Great Waters website, “Many of our local leaders have stepped up to protect our great waters and landscapes by working on smarter zoning, sensible development and land preservation. Now we’re asking them to use their power and to call on the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to repair outdated water protections at the state level to keep these precious waters excellent for generations to come.”

In addition to the Muscontecong River, designated “big waters” include the Delaware River, Flat Creek in Sussex County, Lopatcong Creek in Lopatcong Township, Warren County, the Paulins Kill, a tributary of the Delaware River which runs through Warren and Sussex counties, the Pequest River which runs through Warren and Sussex counties, and the Pohatcong Creek, which runs through Warren and Hunterdon counties.

Unless one is looking, the Musconetcong is generally not visible to those passing through the township. More visible is Budd Lake, which is a source of water from the South Fork of the Raritan River.

The lake, along with other freshwater bodies across the state, came under public scrutiny in 2019, when warm temperatures, lots of rain and nutrient runoff combined to produce severe algal blooms. Since then, the township has partnered with nonprofits to find ways to mitigate and even prevent these blooms.

In August 2020, the state approved $3.5 million for several projects across the state to reduce the impacts of non-point source pollution on waterways, including $1 million for the development of restoration plans lakes and watersheds to mitigate harmful algal blooms, actually bacteria that mimic algae and can in many cases cause illness in humans and death in pets if the numbers are high enough

In Budd Lake, officials have sought to assuage nonpoint source pollution, the result of stormwater runoff that carries a wide variety of pollutants into waterways, including nutrients from fertilizers, animal waste and poorly functioning septic systems, which, in addition to hot temperatures and rain, enhance this HAB stew. That year, DEP also continued to distribute grants to help mitigate potential HABs. One was a $49,000 grant to the Bedminster-based Raritan Headwaters Association to develop a watershed protection and restoration plan for Budd Lake and the watershed. At no more than 12 feet deep, the 374-acre lake is prone to harmful algal blooms.

The Musconetcong Watershed Association isn’t the only environmental group that’s leaning on the state to be a better steward of the environment.

Another state nonprofit environmental group calls on the state to better ensure water quality as part of its annual “Joint Agenda.”

The plan was unveiled Feb. 3 by the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters and is designed to keep the state “at the forefront of the national movement to achieve climate and legal action that will protect our families and communities.” .

Among other things, the “Agenda” includes recommendations for Governor Phil Murphy and lawmakers to act on issues relating to clean water, clean energy, transportation, construction, open spaces, land use, toxins and governance.

“During its first term, the Legislature worked closely with Governor Murphy to put New Jersey at the forefront of environmental protection by stimulating the growth of offshore wind, tackling plastic pollution and signing a landmark environmental justice bill that attempts to limit the cumulative impacts pollution has had on families of color and low-income communities,” said Ed Potosnak, league executive director.

“But now is not the time to rest on our laurels. Our climate is in crisis and our state continues to suffer from threats to clean air, clean water and open spaces. We must build on the successes of the past four years to continue to make New Jersey a national role model and raise the bar for other states and Congress.

The call to action has been echoed by other environmentalists.

“Strong protective rules and regulations are critical. Equally important is having the right people in place to guide the state,” said league president and executive director Julia Somers. New Jersey Highlands Coalition, based in Boonton. “We encourage the administration to act quickly on top candidate nominations to help protect the state’s environment and implement the rules and regulations we need.”

Tom Gilbert, co-executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, said, “The urgency couldn’t be greater to address the climate crisis, advance environmental justice, and solidify our commitment to a 100% energy future. healthier and more prosperous”.

Jessica C. Bell