Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces

 

Water and Sewer

Water is a fundamental resource both to New Jersey’s natural heritage and to its economic well-being. Water resources serve the needs of people, agriculture and industry. The regulatory system governing the use of water and wastewater not only affects our environmental health, but can also help rein in sprawl and support the smart, center-based development called for in the State Development and Redevelopment Plan.

The state of New Jersey has a complex system of laws, regulations and programs that address planning for and management of water, wastewater and stormwater.  This system addresses both water quantity (supply) and water quality, and affects water infrastructure and land use decisions.

At the regional level, planning frameworks in the Highlands and Pinelands regions were established to protect those regions’ vulnerable water resources.

One of the first rules of land use is that development follows infrastructure. Where sewers are located largely dictates where development occurs. Similarly, where and how septic systems are regulated governs how larger-lot subdivisions are designed.

The New Jersey state Department of Environmental Protection administers the statewide Water Quality Management Planning (WQMP) rule, NJAC 7:15, in order to ensure water quality through a wastewater planning process and related mechanisms.

New Jersey Future has been actively engaged in researching, convening stakeholders and advising the wastewater planning process because of its impact on where and how growth occurs. Working with county planning departments and staff at the DEP Division of Coastal and Land Use Planning, we tracked progress in the adoption of updated Future Wastewater Service Area (FWSA) maps, which will likely affect where state government directs development incentives.

Other resources:

  • Background information on wastewater planning from ANJEC
  • DEP Water Quality Management Planning page, with links to the WQMP rule, statutes, and related items

New Jersey’s urban areas face particular water-infrastructure challenges, exacerbated by a coming deadline for establishing plans to control their sewer systems. Learn more and download our report, Ripple Effects, on our urban water infrastructure resource page.

 

  • Water Infrastructure for Thriving CommunitiesWater Infrastructure for Thriving Communities

    A resource page focused on initiatives to upgrade New Jersey's aging water infrastructure and reduce combined-sewer overflows.

  • Stormwater UtilitiesStormwater Utilities

    A resource page focused on stormwater utilities, an important tool available to communities to help manage stormwater-related polluted runoff and flooding.

  • Mainstreaming Green Infrastructurebioswale in Somerset, New Jersey, captures rainwater and reduces flood risk.

    Mainstreaming Green Infrastructure is a program to make green infrastructure the first choice for stormwater management in New Jersey.

New Jersey Future Blog
Curb Bumpout with plants
New Jersey Municipalities Share Green Infrastructure Planning Progress

The new stormwater rules that went into effect on March 2, 2021 require NJ municipalities to update their Stormwater Control Ordinances (SCOs) to require GI in new major development projects. We examined which municipalities had updated their SCOs as required and which had gone above and beyond the NJDEP’s minimum requirements. Out of the 43 towns surveyed and researched, 28 towns have updated their SCO and 24 have posted these updates on their respective websites.

Lead in Drinking Water in Public Schools: State Assistance Accelerates the Solution in New Jersey

Based on research conducted by the Trenton Bureau of the USA TODAY Network in 2019, approximately 480 school buildings across a third of the state’s school districts recorded lead levels that exceeded 15 parts per billion, the action level set by the federal government. Given the severity of the problem and the significant cost of remediation, it was clear that state assistance was necessary to protect students and teachers.

Strategizing from Sussex to Stone Harbor: Water Infrastructure in New Jersey’s Climate Strategy

When thinking about climate change in New Jersey, it is easy to focus on the most obvious threat: coastal flooding from sea level rise. However, climate change will have a number of effects on New Jersey’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure as well. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Draft Climate Change Resilience Strategy recognizes these issues and is an important first step toward adapting New Jersey’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure for an uncertain future.

Oh, Sweet Relief! Stormwater Utilities as an Equitable Tool to Solve Flooding and Pollution

When we discuss the attributes of our favorite communities, chronic flooding or unswimmable lakes and streams do not make the list. However, many municipalities in New Jersey confront those problems and, for at least some of them, the creation of a stormwater utility could be the key to a more sustainable, prosperous future. In this session entitled Oh, Sweet Relief! Stormwater Utilities as an Equitable Took to Solve Flooding and Pollution, held during the 2021 Planning and Redevelopment Conference, co-hosted by New Jersey Future and the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association, four speakers covered the basics of stormwater utilities, including typical program design, fee structures, and credits for stormwater mitigation projects.

Savvy Stormwater Strategies: How Planning at Every Level Can Help New Jersey Weather the Storm

A four-speaker panel, during the session Savvy Stormwater Strategies: How Planning at Every Level Can Help New Jersey Weather the Storm, held at the 2021 Planning and Redevelopment Conference co-hosted by New Jersey Future and the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association, explored this issue from a regulatory, research, municipal, and policy standpoint. The session provided practical guidance on strategies to corral runoff and increase resiliency in the face of climate change, and identified important next steps to consider.

Articles and Stories
Growing Smart and Water Wise

Development in the Pinelands growth areas has affected water resources and will continue to exert pressures going forward. This report highlights what can be done by municipal, regional and state agencies to minimize their negative impacts. July 2014.

Ripple Effects

This report and related case studies summarize the state of urban water infrastructure in New Jersey and how it affects residents and businesses. May 2014.

2016 Smart Growth Award Winners

A redevelopment of a landmark downtown building; several projects designed to spur homeownership in historically disinvested areas; an urban farm; and a bold resiliency plan are the winners of New Jersey Future’s 2016 Smart Growth Awards. Al Koeppe is the recipient of the Cary Edwards Leadership Award.

2015 Smart Growth Award Winners

A redevelopment of a historic urban park; the expansion of an anchor institution in our capital city; a “complete” redesign of a major urban street; a landmark multi-use building that serves as a community anchor; two plans to revitalize neighborhoods near transit; and a pioneering collaborative effort to improve urban neighborhoods prone to stormwater flooding are the winners of New Jersey Future’s 2015 Smart Growth Awards. Anne S. Babineau Esq. wins the Cary Edwards Leadership Award.

Communicating Value to Consumers: Strategies for Water and Sewer Utilities

A one-hour webinar focused on consumer-facing communications strategies for water and sewer utilities. Thursday, May 14, 2015.

See all New Jersey Future Blog posts and articles in this category »
 

Reports, Presentations and Testimony

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