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  Bureau of Environmental Analysis, Restoration and Standards
Surface Water Quality Standards (SWQS)
N.J.A.C. 7:9B
"Protecting, Maintaining, and Restoring New Jersey Surface Waters"

The Surface Water Quality Standards rules are periodically revised to address:
  1. Changes in use classification, water quality criteria, antidegradation provisions, policies or other provisions;
  2. Expiration of the rules requiring readoption pursuant to the New Jersey Administrative Procedure Act (NJAPA) at N.J.S.A. 52:14B-1 et seq.

 
Before amendments to the SWQS rules can be adopted, opportunities for public review and comment, including a public hearing, are provided as required under the NJAPA. An informal stakeholder process may be convened prior to rulemaking. Since SWQS must also comply with the federal Clean Water Act, USEPA approval is required before implementation of any amendments to the SWQS.

**Please refer to the official versions of these rules for the most accurate information about the standards currently in effect and how they are administered by the Department** Information on obtaining the official versions of Department rules is available on the Department's website.

The current SWQS rules (N.J.A.C. 7:9B) were readopted in 2016 and scheduled to expire in 2023. This website provides access to a courtesy copy of the SWQS for informational purposes only. An official version of the rule may be obtained from LexisNexis ®, the publisher of the New Jersey Register (N.J.R.) and the New Jersey Administrative Code (N.J.A.C.). Information on obtaining the official versions of Department rules is available on the Department's website.


Changes to the SWQS can only be made by amending the rules in accordance with the New Jersey Administrative Procedure Act (N.J.S.A. 52:14B-1 et seq.) or through a Notice of Administrative Change under N.J.A.C. 7:9B-1.5(c) or 1.14(g).

The Federal Clean Water Act requires states to review the SWQS every three years (“triennial review”) to identify any necessary changes, including adoption of any revised federal surface water quality criteria or provide justification. In addition to, or as a result of this triennial review, the SWQS rules are periodically amended to update water quality criteria, stream classifications, or antidegradation designations and other policies. USEPA approval is required before any amendments to the SWQS can be implemented.

All current Department rules and regulations are posted on the Department’s website at http://www.state.nj.us/dep/rules/, along with current and prior rule proposals and rule adoptions. A summary of amendments to the SWQS rules since 2002, along with links to corresponding maps, are provided below:


Proposed Adopted/Effective Date Description Map
November 18, 2002 May 19, 2003 Category One Upgrades* View Map
January 6, 2003 November 3, 2003 Trout Water Reclassification View Map
November 3, 2003 August 2, 2004 Category One Upgrades* View Map
December 20, 2004 June 20, 2005 Category One Upgrades* View Map
September 19, 2005 October 16, 2006 Rule Amendments View Map
May 21, 2007 June 16, 2008 Category One Upgrades* View Map
April 20, 2009 December 21, 2009 Readoption with Amendments** n/a
December 21 , 2009 January 18, 2011 Amended Nutrient
Policies and Criteria
n/a
n/a April 4, 2011 Administrative Corrections n/a
n/a October 17, 2016 Readoption without change
via administrative notice
n/a


The SWQS were readopted in 2016 without change. Since then, the Department has been working with stakeholders to identify amendments necessary to conform with amendments to the federal water quality standards (e.g., variance procedures, ammonia criteria, recreation criteria) as well as others needed to address water quality issues specific to New Jersey. Learn more about the Surface Water Quality Standards Rules Stakeholder Process.


The Department is currently developing amendments to the SWQS to incorporate the new Water Quality Standards Variance (WQSV) procedures as recommended in the Federal Water Quality Standards in 2015. Under the federal regulations, a WQSV is a time-limited designated use and criterion for a specific pollutant that reflects the highest attainable condition (HAC) during the term of the WQSV. For additional information, please visit the federal Water Quality Regulations, 40 C.F.R. 131 at https://www.ecfr.gov.

The Department has been working with stakeholders and USEPA to develop procedures and pollutant-specific WQSV as future amendments to the SWQS.

As discussed under “Rule Amendments” above, the Department is working with a group of stakeholders to develop a WQSV for arsenic. The initial stakeholder workgroup meeting was held on September 28, 2017. Learn More.



   
For more information, please contact Kimberly Cenno, Bureau Chief,
Bureau of Environmental Analysis, Restoration and Standards at (609) 633-1441.

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Last Updated: January 18, 2018