Deadline Approaching for Municipal Compliance on NJ Stormwater Rule

March 2, 2021 is the deadline for New Jersey’s municipalities to comply with the new stormwater management ordinances laid out in the New Jersey Stormwater Management Rule (N.J.A.C. 7:8).

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) revised the rule last year to now require construction projects to include green infrastructure in order to meet the three performance criteria that NJDEP sets forth for stormwater management. The new rule gives local governments an opening to revise their existing stormwater management ordinances to better manage flooding and improve compromised water quality.

The rule defines green infrastructure as, “a stormwater management measure that manages stormwater close to its source by: treating stormwater runoff through infiltration into subsoil; treating stormwater runoff through filtration by vegetation or soil; or storing stormwater runoff for reuse.”

The pre-existing rule required that major developments incorporate nonstructural stormwater management BMPs/strategies to the “maximum extent practicable” to meet their criteria. The amended rule not only gives specific suggestions for the kind of BMPs it’s looking for by adding a definition of green infrastructure, but it also makes those BMPs/strategies a requirement for compliance with the rule’s minimum standards. Also included in the rule are tables outlining the application of each type of stormwater BMP.

Another update to the rule is that motor vehicle surfaces are now incorporated into the definition of major development. The amended rule requires these motor vehicle surfaces to have 80% total suspended solids (TSS) removal in order to maintain water quality. These surfaces include standard pavement drive/parking areas and gravel and dirt drive/parking areas, according to the rule. However, the rule does not require water quality control for runoff from other impervious surfaces that are not traveled by automobiles, such as rooftops and sidewalks, or other paved walkway areas.

New Jersey municipalities need to comply with the new standards and the ordinances must be in effect by March 2nd, 2021. To make this transition a bit smoother, NJDEP released a revised Model Ordinance in Appendix D of the NJ Stormwater BMP Manual to act as a sample for municipalities to follow when adopting these new regulations.

The Watershed Institute also drafted its own Model Ordinance to help municipalities go beyond the updated rule and strengthen protections to benefit the environment. The Model Ordinance builds on the state’s baseline requirements with the following enhancements:

  • Reduced threshold definition for major development
  • Requirement for major developments to treat runoff from all impervious surfaces for water quality
  • Requirement for stormwater management for minor development over 250-square-feet
  • Stormwater management for redevelopment
  • The use of Low Impact Development techniques
  • Maintenance reporting requirements

At the end of last year, The Watershed Institute held a webinar about the state’s new Green Infrastructure rule. The webinar, attended by 240 people, included three presentations that provided a detailed look at the NJDEP’s rule updates and the steps needed for local governments to comply.

The presentations, given by the following green infrastructure experts, are available to view in full:

You can view the full webinar by clicking here.

 

At Princeton Hydro, we recognize the benefit of green infrastructure and we’ve been incorporating it into our engineering designs since before the term was regularly used in the stormwater lexicon. We’ve been following the rule amendments very closely, and, last year, we developed the following blog to help folks garner a deeper understanding of green infrastructure, interpret the rule updates, and break down the complexities of the stormwater guidelines:

Understanding The Updated NJ Stormwater Rule

If you have further questions regarding green infrastructure or stormwater utilities, we encourage you to contact us.

Spring Events Spotlight: Webinars, Virtual Conferences, and Contests

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a number of events to be canceled or postponed, and many events have been switched to a digital format. Here’s a snapshot of the events Princeton Hydro is participating in while social distancing this Spring:

April 20 – May 16: Sustainable South Jersey Photo Contest

Sustainable South Jersey (SSJ) is hosting a Spring Photo Contest. Starting this week through May 16, the organization will hold weekly Facebook photo contests with a different photo contest theme – this week’s theme is Nature Appreciation. The photo with the most shares at the end of the week will be declared the winner. Shares will be tallied at 5pm each Saturday and winners will be announced on social media each following Sunday. The winner each week will receive a $50 gift card and be featured on SSJ’s social platforms and website.

Fun Fact: Our Marketing and Communications Manager Dana Patterson is the Vice President of the Sustainable South Jersey Board of Directors!

Learn more & Register

 

April 23: *Free* Green Stormwater Infrastructure Regulatory Webinar

New Jersey recently changed how stormwater is managed; green infrastructure will be the method of addressing polluted stormwater runoff going forward. Within the next year, all of New Jersey’s municipalities will have to adopt new stormwater management ordinances. And after adoption, all new projects will have to meet the green infrastructure stormwater management requirements. On April 23 from 4 – 6 PM, The Watershed Institute will host a webinar during which a panel of experts, including Princeton Hydro’s Dr. Clay Emerson, will discuss what municipalities must do and what the new requirements will mean for design and review of projects.

Learn more & Register

 

May 2 – May 9: Musconetcong Watershed Association’s Virtual Run for the River

MWA’s 20th Annual Run for the River, a fundraiser that supports education and outreach programs, will be held virtually this year. For the past 19 years, this event has taken place in Asbury, NJ along the Wild & Scenic Musconetcong River. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, folks are invited to register online to run, walk, bike, paddle, or even fish to show your support for the Musconetcong River. Set your own goal, log your times, and see how you compare with others engaging in your favorite activity! The first 125 registrants will get a free medal, and all participants will receive a free tote bag. As a proud sponsor of this event, the Princeton Hydro team is excited to participate!

Learn more & Register

 

 May 27 – 29: Virtual 2020 Joint Engineer Training Conference & Expo

Due to COVID-19, SAME has moved its 2020 Joint Engineer Training Conference & Expo (JETC) to a virtual format. The Virtual 2020 JETC will allow participants to tune-in live to all presentations and educational sessions, if their schedules allow. Alternatively, all sessions will be recorded so if you miss anything, you can access it at a later date. PDH credits will still be available for all education and training sessions!

Princeton Hydro President Geoff Goll, P.E. is giving a presentation on Friday, May 29 from 9:45 – 10:45 AM about Innovative Wetland Mitigation. The presentation will focus on a project Princeton Hydro completed at Joint Base Andrews and will provide the roadmap for military bases and other federal facilities to ease the permitting process for expansion while following Clean Water Act guidelines.

Learn more & Register

 

The Following Spring Events Have Been Rescheduled Due to COVID-19
July 19 (Postponed from April 22): Stroud “Flow of Life” Film Premiere

Join Stroud Water Research Center for the premiere of “Flow of Life,” a documentary created by The Visionaries Public Television Series that is hosted by actor Sam Waterston and highlights the Stroud Center’s work. The film premiere will also include refreshments beginning at 4 PM and a post-film Q & A session with award-winning journalist and producer Jody Santos. Princeton Hydro is proud to sponsor this exciting event! 

Learn more & RSVP

 

September 17 (Postponed from May 7): SAME NJ Post Small Business Council Event

The theme of this year’s SAME NJ Post Small Business Council Event is Cybersecurity. The event includes presentations from a variety of experts who will cover topics related to protecting your company from digital threats and meeting Government security requirements. The mission of SAME is to build leaders and lead collaboration among government and industry to develop multidisciplinary solutions to national security infrastructure challenges. Princeton Hydro joined SAME as a sustaining member in 2018.

Learn more & Register

 

September 19 (Postponed from March): WATERSHED CONGRESS ALONG THE SCHUYLKILL RIVER

Hosted by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, this conference is a highly anticipated event for people in the Schuylkill Watershed and beyond interested in understanding, protecting, and restoring their local streams and watersheds. This year’s program features a keynote on community building and engagement efforts to move inclusively, build awareness, and activate urban youth and adults in water protection, as well as information-packed breakout sessions, presenter’s roundtables, poster sessions, and much more. Michael Hartshorne, Emily Bjorhus, and Cory Speroff of Princeton Hydro, a proud sponsor of the event, are giving a presentation on Stream, Floodplain, and Multi-Functional Riparian Buffer Restoration.

Learn more & Register

 

October 7 (Postponed from April 1): NJ Invasives Strike Team Annual Conference

Presented by the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space and hosted by Duke Farms, the 12th Annual New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team Conference is considered the most comprehensive state-wide forum on invasive species. The conference encompasses insights from both academic research and field experience, and features practical demonstrations by land stewards in addition to formal presentations. Princeton Hydro, a sponsor of the conference, will be exhibiting. We look forward to seeing you there in October!

Learn more & Register
 …

STAY TUNED FOR MORE EVENT SPOTLIGHTS!

 

 

 

Flipping the Script on American Environmental Thought: FREE Presentation Download

 

The Watershed Institute held its 3rd Annual New Jersey Watershed Conference, an educational event that aims to advance knowledge and communications on issues related to water quality and quantity across the state. The event included a variety of presentations from local experts on watershed management, stormwater, and problems and solutions related to the health of New Jersey’s watersheds.

During the conference, Princeton Hydro’s Marketing Coordinator Kelsey Mattison, a St. Lawrence University graduate with a degree in English and environmental studies, lead a workshop that explored binaries in environmental thought and how to break through those limiting thought processes in order to advance a more productive and shared understanding of our natural world.

The presentation, titled “Flipping the Script on American Environmental Thought,” discussed how black-and-white thought processes (a.k.a. binaries) cause us to view issues as one or the other, leaving little to no room for the possibility of blending the two.

Historically, American thought has viewed environmental issues through a binary lens: either we favor human society, or we favor the environment, and this juxtaposition has rarely allowed for integration between the two perspectives.

Take, for example, the two concepts of preservation and conservation toted by John Muir and Gifford Pinchot, respectively. Muir’s concept of preservation argued that humans should set land aside to leave untouched to preserve its natural beauty, while Pinchot’s concept of conservation advocated for a responsible use of the land’s resources. Both are forms of environmental advocacy, but neither leave much room to combine the two ideas, ultimately creating a black and white binary surrounding human responsibility to the planet. This makes it difficult to then make any compromise on issues related to managing or utilizing our natural resources.

The workshop also explored answers to the important question of: “How do we flip the script to be more inclusive?” Participants discussed ideas around utilizing Values-Based Communication in order to connect with people from different groups/with different values. A few of the communication strategies Kelsey presented, include:

  • Finding Common Ground:

    When groups are telling such different narratives, it can be hard to see that their goals might actually be completely in line. By first identifying what each group’s priorities are, we can better understand their needs in order to help fulfill them. This allows people with seemingly conflicting beliefs to work towards a common goal.

  • Seeing More than Two Sides:

    Generally, people default to thinking there are only two sides to an issue, but no conflict is ever truly just one thing or the other. Even if there are overtly two options, the issue is always more complex. When resolving conflict, it’s almost always possible to find at least one thing the two sides have in common.

Overall, Kelsey’s workshop emphasized the importance of open-mindedness and inclusion in our approach to environmental action in order to bring people together and foster real change. If you’re interested in learning more, click here for a free download of Kelsey’s full presentation.

The New Jersey Watershed Conference, of which Princeton Hydro was a sponsor and exhibitor, also included presentations on topics ranging from urban flooding to microplastics in our waterways to green infrastructure. Dr. Fred Lubnow, Princeton Hydro’s Director of Aquatic Programs, presented on the “Causes and Impacts of Harmful Algal Blooms.” To view the complete agenda, go here.

Princeton Hydro is a proud supporter of The Watershed Institute, a nonprofit organization comprised of policy advocates, scientists, land and water stewards, naturalists, and educators. Focused on the Central New Jersey area, the Watershed Institute speaks out for water and environment, protects and restores sensitive habitats, tests waterways for pollution, and inspires others to care for the natural world. For more information, or to become a member, go here.

Green Infrastructure and Stormwater Utilities: Solutions to NJ’s Environmental Issues

Flooding, runoff, and storm surges, OH MY!

With increases in each of these occurring now, the imposition of green infrastructure and a stormwater utility fee are viable solutions to reducing their impacts. Plus, with the passing of the S-1073/A2694 bill in early 2019, the introduction of a stormwater utility became legal in New Jersey, making it the 41st state to do so.

On June 19, 2019, The Watershed Institute in Pennington, NJ held the “New Jersey Green Infrastructure & Stormwater Utilities Symposium” to address the environmental problems New Jersey faces and present solutions, including the stormwater utility. The event was geared for municipal officials, engineers, nonprofit leaders, and other interested parties, with an agenda full of expert speakers sharing insights and ideas on topics like the science of stormwater, New Jersey’s proposed stormwater rule changes, why green infrastructure and a stormwater utility fee matter, and possibilities for how to move New Jersey forward.

So, What is Green Infrastructure?

Brian Friedlich, the first presenter and a project manager for Kleinfelder, relayed that according to NJDEP, green infrastructure consists of “methods of stormwater management that reduce stormwater volume, flow, or characteristics by allowing the stormwater to infiltrate, be treated by vegetation or by soils, or be stored for use.” He also explained that green infrastructure can improve the environment and communities by providing community engagement, greening communities, addressing flooding, improving water quality by reducing CSOs, harvesting rainwater, increasing habitat for wildlife, and increasing property values.

After Brian’s presentation, a founding Principal of Princeton Hydro, Dr. Stephen Souza, now CEO of Clean Waters Consulting, urged that we should “turn down the volume,” when it comes to stormwater runoff. He explained that it is not enough to just manage peak flow of stormwater; we must also work to lower the volume of off-site stormwater discharge. So, how can you and your municipality do this? He offered six principles to designing successful green infrastructure projects:

  1. Treat stormwater as a resource
  2. Don’t make stormwater management an afterthought
  3. Attack the cause not the symptoms
  4. Turn your watershed inside out
  5. Think small to achieve big results
  6. Use nature as your model

Not only is successful implementation of green infrastructure important, but communal understanding of it may be more so. That is why Princeton Hydro partnered with New Jersey Future, Clark Caton Hintz, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program, FZ Creative, and municipal stakeholders to launch the New Jersey Green Infrastructure Municipal Toolkit. Filled with helpful information about green infrastructure, this free resource is extremely useful for gaining communal understanding, getting started, implementing nature-based stormwater solutions, and sustaining your program.

What is Stormwater and Why Should Municipalities Require a Utility Fee for It?

Before we get into why it is imperative for New Jersey municipalities to implement a stormwater utility fee, it is important to understand just what stormwater is, what it does, and how it affects New Jersey residents.

The name is pretty intuitive: stormwater is the water that comes from precipitation, whether that be rain, snow, or ice melt. With increasing levels of water from climate change impacts (i.e. storm surge, increased rainfall, sea level rise), stormwater management has become an issue for states all across the U.S., whether it’s an over abundance or lack thereof.

So, what’s happening in New Jersey? The stormwater infrastructure that is currently in place (storm drains, sewer piping, etc.) is aging and unable to effectively handle the amount of runoff that has been flowing through the region in recent years. This is causing increased nutrient runoff and flooding all over the state. And, with increasing global temperatures, this trend is likely to continue.

To combat these issues, New Jersey passed the S-1073/A2694 bill in January 2019, authorizing counties and municipalities, either separately or in combination with other municipalities, to begin implementing a stormwater utility fee to New Jersey residents.

The law itself states:

“Every sewerage authority is hereby authorized to charge and collect rents, rates, fees, or other charges for direct or indirect use or services of its stormwater management system. The stormwater service charges may be charged to and collected from the owner or occupant, or both, of any real property. The owner of any real property shall be liable for and shall pay the stormwater service charges to the sewerage authority at the time when and place where these charges are due and payable. The rents, rates, fees, and charges shall be determined in a manner consistent with the stormwater utility guidance manual created by the Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to section 24 of P.L.

Any stormwater service charge imposed pursuant to subsection a. of this section shall be calculated in a manner consistent with the guidance provided in the stormwater utility guidance manual created by the Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to section 24 of P.L.”

Essentially, this fee charges a chosen type of property owner within a given municipality or region a certain amount of money for the impervious area (mainly artificial structures like asphalt, concrete, stone, rooftops, etc. that water can’t seep through) they have on their property. Just how much that fee is and whether or not there’s a limit on the chargeable impermeable area are dependent on the government agency.

Since the impervious area blocks water from seeping into the ground, it becomes runoff and ends up in the stormwater drain. And, since New Jersey’s systems are growing old and less efficient, it makes sense to implement a fee for their use. Historically, general taxpayer dollars or legislative appropriations have been used to fund updates to aging infrastructure. Implementing a utility fee will create a consistent funding source to update and expand the current aging infrastructure so that flooding will occur less.

Other states, like neighboring Pennsylvania, have been proactive in addressing these impacts by implementing a stormwater utility fee. And, in Maryland, the state implemented a watershed restoration program and MS4 efforts that require stormwater utility fees. These initiatives have generated a job-creating industry boom that benefits engineers, contractors, and local DPWs. At the same time, Maryland’s program is improving the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, and stimulating the tourism and the crabbing/fishing industry.

In relation to how urban cities are affected by stormwater, John Miller, the FEMA Mitigation Liaison, shared this helpful resource, “The Growing Threat of Urban Flooding: A National Challenge” during the symposium. It addresses the extent and consequences of urban flooding in the U.S., while exploring actions that can be taken to mitigate future flooding. Amongst other recommendations made, the research group encouraged Congress and state officials to “develop appropriate mechanisms at the federal, state, and local level to fund necessary repairs, operations, and upgrades of current stormwater and urban flood-related infrastructure.”

A stormwater utility should not only be reviewed in the context of cost, since it meets all three elements of a triple-bottom line: social, environmental, and financial. Other considerations are the fact that allowing stormwater utilities in New Jersey will create jobs, help reduce flood impacts, enhance water quality, improve our fisheries, and preserve our water-based tourism economy.

When it comes to green infrastructure, Princeton Hydro has been a leader in innovative, cost-effective, and environmentally sound stormwater management systems since its inception. Long before the term “green infrastructure” was part of the design community’s lexicon, the firm’s engineers were integrating nature-based stormwater management systems to fulfill such diverse objectives as flood control, water quality protection, and pollutant load reduction. And, Princeton Hydro has developed regional nonpoint source pollutant budgets for over 100 waterways. The preparation of stormwater management plans and design of stormwater management systems for pollutant reduction is an integral part of many of the firm’s projects. So, we are major proponents of implementing stormwater utilities and green infrastructure into our everyday lives.

Do you have questions regarding green infrastructure or stormwater utilities? Contact us here.