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Milestone No. 2: Ocean County’s Proposed Wastewater Service Areas Published for Review

May 24th, 2012 by

Source: Flickr user -luz-

Ocean County’s proposed Future Wastewater Service Area maps were posted for public notice on May 21st in the New Jersey Register, and on the DEP Watershed Management website, making Ocean the second full county to near adoption of an updated sewer service area under the 2008 Water Quality Management Plan (WQMP) rule. For more information, see our Ocean County Fact Sheet and our post on Camden County’s proposed Future Wastewater Service Area.

This milestone matters because Ocean’s sewer service areas (SSAs) delineate where sewers are in the ground or can be built, which in turn largely dictates where development occurs.  (Outside the SSAs, reliance on septic systems allows only low-density development.) 

The update meets a primary requirement of the DEP’s 2008 WQMP rule that seeks to protect water quality.  In addition to requiring the sewer service areas to exclude large environmentally sensitive areas, the rule limits development intensity to what sewer treatment plants and natural systems can handle.  However, implementing all of the rule provisions has been difficult and controversial, and progress has been slow.  This past winter, the governor signed legislation that required submission of the SSA updates within 180 days, but provided a two-year deadline extension for most other requirements of the rule.

New Jersey Future has been following the wastewater planning process closely because of its impact on where and how growth occurs.

Ocean County’s proposed sewer service areas cover 124,820, acres or 30 percent of the county’s land area. The proposed area is 33,087 acres smaller than the pre-existing SSAs; lands removed include environmentally sensitive areas (44 percent), preserved open space (25 percent), and land identified for preservation on municipal master plans. The only significant additions to the SSA are the New Egypt town center in Plumsted Township and Roosevelt City in Manchester Township.   The proposal is subject to public comment and review.    

New Jersey Future has been following the wastewater planning process closely because of its impact on where and how growth occurs.  The SSA updates will likely affect where state government directs development incentives, since it is expected that the State Strategic Plan will include access to sewer service as one of the essential criteria for identifying growth areas.     

New Jersey Future is preparing a fact sheet on each county’s proposed Future Wastewater Service Area that will include links to the public notice (with information on the rule requirements and the public comment process) and to a map of the proposed SSA, a general description of the proposed SSA, future anticipated wastewater planning activities, and contacts for more information.  

Several other counties and a handful of municipalities have submitted proposed Future Wastewater Service Areas to comply with the 2008 WQMP rule that are expected to be publicly noticed in the New Jersey Register shortly.   Updates in other jurisdictions are proceeding under the 1989 WQMP rule, including Monmouth County, parts of Essex and Union Counties (the Joint Meeting of Essex and Union), and parts of Bergen County.   A proposal for Ridgewood, Bergen County, has been approved as compliant with the 2008 rule; a proposal for Washington Township, Morris County, and a proposal for a portion of Somerset County, can be found on the DEP Watershed Management website.  

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