Bureau of Environmental Analysis, Restoration and Standards
New Jersey 2014 Integrated Water Quality Assessment Report
(includes 305(b) Report and 303(d) List)
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (Department) is responsible for conducting and coordinating assessment of water quality for all waters of the State. Assessment results are presented in the biennial New Jersey Integrated Water Quality Assessment Report (Integrated Report). These Integrated Reports provide effective tools for maintaining high quality waters and improving the quality of waters that do not attain their designated uses (i.e., contain impaired waterbodies). The Integrated Reports describe progress toward attainment of the designated uses of surface waters of the State, as specified in the New Jersey Surface Water Quality Standards (N.J.A.C. 7:9B). These include: aquatic life, recreation, drinking water, fish consumption, shellfish consumption, industrial and agricultural. In addition to identifying impaired waterbodies, the Integrated Reports identify subwatersheds where all designated uses are attained because the water quality is not impaired.
New Jersey’s water quality has been improving since the 1970s. During that era, the Department focused on achieving better treatment, as well as improving the operation and management of classic point sources – sources that directly discharge pollutants into waterways. These efforts achieved improved water quality throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Remaining sources of pollution – nonpoint sources – are diffuse and harder to control. They include pollutants that enter waterways through indirect means, such as oil on a roadway that gets washed into a storm drain or stream after a rain. A United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Nonpoint Source Fact Sheet (available on USEPA's Web site at http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/nps/outreach/point1.cfm) identifies nonpoint source pollution as the nation’s largest water quality problem. It states that nationwide approximately 40% of surveyed rivers, lakes and estuaries are not clean enough for fishing and swimming due to nonpoint sources from sediment and nutrients.
A United States Geological Survey (USGS) water quality trend analysis of 371 New Jersey water monitoring stations from 1998 to 2009 shows that total phosphorus and dissolved oxygen levels have improved statewide. The longer term trend analysis shows water conditions for other parameters remains relatively stable. There are two exceptions: nitrates and total dissolved solids (TDS). Nitrate increases are most likely attributable to better treatment to address ammonia toxicity, which is a positive development. The other exception is the seasonal increase in TDS, which reflects the outcome of road salting. The Department’s 2014 assessment (based on data collected between 2008 to 2012) shows a significant improvement since 2002. The Department agrees with USEPA that nonpoint source pollution remains the primary cause of remaining water quality problems.
Water quality monitoring, assessment and restoration is an ongoing process. Surface water quality standards, as well as monitoring design and assessment methods, are continuously updated to reflect advances in scientific knowledge about linkages between standards and use support and improved analytical methods and field procedures. Data monitoring helps to assess condition of waters, identify sources of impairment, develop restorative responses, and measure the effectiveness of the responses, leading to adaptive management. The Barnegat Bay initiative, more fully described at http://www.nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/, illustrates application of these concepts, with the goal being to identify the relative role that water quality and other stressors play and developing responses that are tailored to addressing the stressors effectively.
One example of where an integrated response has achieved improvement of water quality can found in the lower Pequest River. An assessment unit that had been impaired for three parameters is now attaining water quality standards due to the combined effect of regulatory and non-regulatory actions, including targeted funding using federal 319(h) pass through grant funds for streambank restoration and stormwater controls. Using an integrated approach that includes fostering and focusing the work of partners, positive results such as these are expected to be replicated throughout the state.
The draft 2014 303(d) List of Water Quality Limited Waters (303(d) List has been completed. The following documents are now available for public review and comment and may be downloaded from the links below. Comments must be submitted to Sandra Cohen at Sandra.Cohen@dep.nj.gov by March 2, 2016.
- Overall statewide water quality has improved or remained stable over time; localized changes in water quality are usually associated with changes in land use. Generally, water quality declines as the intensity of land use increases. The largest concentrations of high quality waters are located in the least developed regions of the state, specifically the upper northwest and the Pinelands region.
- Statewide, 205 miles of rivers and streams, and 2,197 acres of lakes located within 14 of New Jersey’s 958 subwatersheds fully support all designated uses (except for fish consumption).
- 2,111 miles of rivers and streams and 11,917 acres of lakes, or 16% of New Jersey’s subwatersheds, fully support the aquatic life designated use. Aquatic life use impairment is mostly due to nutrient over-enrichment.
- New Jersey assesses support of designated uses for the majority of all surface waters of the State. 55% of subwatersheds fully support at least one designated use.
- The most frequent cause of water quality impairment is the result of pathogens, which include E. coli, enterococcus, fecal coliform and total coliform; however, there was a net decrease in the number of subwatersheds on the 303(d) List for Enterococcus, which is the key indicator of water quality health in ocean, bay and estuary waters.
- Links to maps displaying the spatial extent of key designated use assessment results are provided below:
Delaware River waters are assessed by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). DRBC's 2012 Water Quality Assessment Report is available on the DRBC Web site at http://www.nj.gov/drbc/.
- Reporting Period covers January 1, 2008 - December 31, 2012
- Data solicitation notice published on February 19, 2013 (45 N.J.R. 378(a)).
- Data submittal/upload deadline: July 1, 2013
- Draft 2014 Methods Document and public notice seeking comments published on July 21, 2014 (46 N.J.R. 1719(c))
- Public comment period ended on August 20, 2014.
- 2014 Methods Document finalized in December 2016
- Draft 2014 303(d) List and public notice seeking comments published on February 1, 2016.
- Public comment period ends on March 2, 2016.
Additional information about New Jersey's Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Reports is available on the General Information web page.