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Getting New Jersey Ready To Welcome Green Infrastructure

March 11th, 2013 by

New Report Pinpoints Statutory and Regulatory Obstacles

Green street planters, an example of green-infrastructure techniques. Source: EPA

Green street planters, an example of green-infrastructure techniques. Source: EPA

Green infrastructure is the term used to refer to a series of strategies and tactics that seek to manage stormwater and reduce flooding by addressing the problem closer to its source. Communities, developers and citizen groups across New Jersey are experimenting with green infrastructure techniques such as green roofs, planted bioswales, rain barrels and porous pavement.  However, as highlighted at New Jersey Future’s Redevelopment Forum, leading jurisdictions like New York City are installing green infrastructure on a far broader scale. 

The maze of statutory and regulatory obstacles that hinder green infrastructure is highlighted in New Jersey Future’s new report, “Green Infrastructure in the State of New Jersey: Statutory and Regulatory Barriers to Green Infrastructure Implementation,” authored by New Jersey Future intern Carolyn Worstell.  The report received support from Together North Jersey and feedback from the Sustainable Jersey Green Infrastructure Task Force.

The report starts with a description of the regulatory framework that governs stormwater management at the state level and explains the ways in which the regulatory and guidance documents encourage the use of green infrastructure within that framework.  The report moves on to identify and explain the most relevant statutory and regulatory barriers to widespread implementation of green infrastructure in New Jersey, including:

  • Lack of authorization to charge for stormwater discharges  or create stormwater utilities
  • Limited regulatory jurisdiction over already-developed areas
  • Lack of state and local enforcement of the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Stormwater Management Rule
  • Poorly implemented Municipal Stormwater Management Plan adoption and review process
  • Splintered or incomplete state-level design guidelines for green infrastructure
  • Lack of integration across local, regional and state government entities
  • Dysfunctional program for NJDEP Regional Stormwater Management Plans

The report’s analysis of these barriers highlights where changes to laws, rules and programs are needed, and should help inform consideration of such reforms with the goal of enabling and encouraging better stormwater management using green infrastructure throughout New Jersey.

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