Bureau of Environmental Analysis, Restoration and Standards
New Jersey's Integrated Water Quality Assessment Reports:
The New Jersey Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Reports (Integrated Reports) are intended to provide effective tools for maintaining high quality waters and improving the quality of waters that do not attain their designated uses. The Integrated Reports describe attainment of the designated uses specified in New Jersey's Surface Water Quality Standards (N.J.A.C. 7:9B), which include: aquatic life; recreation; drinking, industrial, and agricultural water supply; fish consumption; and shellfish harvest for consumption. The Integrated Report includes the following information to inform and guide water resource management at statewide, regional, and local levels:
- The Integrated List of Waters ("Integrated List", "305(b) Report", or "Water Quality Inventory") is required under Section 305(b) of the federal Clean Water Act which mandates that states submit to USEPA on a biennial basis, a Statewide Water Quality Inventory Report or "305(b) Report" that describes the status of principal waters in terms of overall water quality and support of designated uses, as well as strategies to maintain and improve water quality. The 305(b) reports are used by Congress and USEPA to establish program priorities and funding for federal and state water resource management programs. New Jersey's Integrated List identifies the use assessment results for all waters of the State, grouped into subwatershed or other hydrologically-based assessment units. Assessment units that do not attain applicable surface water quality standards or fully support applicable designated uses require the development of a total maximum daily load (TMDL) and are placed on the 303(d) List of Water Quality Limited Waters. Sources and causes of pollutants causing use impairment are identified, where known. Use assessment results are shown as "fully supporting", "not supporting", or "insufficient information". Waters that do not support the applicable designated uses are placed on the 303(d) List along with the pollutant causing non-support.
- The 303(d) List of Water Quality Limited Waters ("303(d) List") is required under Section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act, which mandates that states submit to USEPA, on a biennial basis, a list of waters that do not support their designated uses because they are not meeting surface water quality standards despite the implementation of technology-based effluent limits. All such waters must be identified on the 303(d) List of Water Quality Limited Waters ("303(d) List"). States must prioritize 303(d)-listed waters for Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) development and identify those high priority waters for which they anticipate establishing TMDLs in the next two years. The 303(d) List must be submitted to USEPA by April 1 of every even-numbered year. Since 2002, New Jersey has developed and submitted its 303(d) List and Two-Year TMDL Schedule as part of the Integrated Report.
- The Integrated Water Quality Assessment Methods (Methods Document) includes a description of quality assurance and data requirements and scientific methods used by the Department to evaluate all readily available surface water quality data for compliance with applicable surface water quality standards and support of applicable designated uses. The Methods Document also explains the rationale for placement of assessment units and designated uses on the Integrated List; the placement of assessment units and pollutants on, or removal from, the 303(d) List; and prioritization and ranking of 303(d)-Listed waters for TMDL development.
- Assessment Unit-Cause Combinations Removed from the 303(d) List and accompanying justification (Delisted Waters) identifies and provides justification for assessment unit/pollutant combinations that were removed from the 303(d) List (e.g., water quality was restored), in accordance with USEPA guidance and the Methods Document.
- Decisions to Not List Assessment Unit/Pollutant Combinations on the 303(d) List (Decisions to Not List) identifies and provides justification for the Department’s decision to not place specific assessment unit/pollutant combinations on the 303(d) List, in accordance with USEPA guidance and the Methods Document.
Integrated Report Process
- Data Solicitation: The Integrated Report process begins with the solicitation of water quality-related data to support the development of the 303(d) List. The Department provides a notice of data solicitation in the New Jersey Register and on the Department's website. The data solicitation notice will identify data quality and submission requirements, as well as the deadline for making data publicly available.
- Methods Document Refinement: The Methods Document may be revised by the Department as needed to refine data quality requirements, assessment methods, or to address new surface water quality standards or policies. The revised draft Methods Document is published on the Department's website and a notice is published in the New Jersey Register announcing a thirty-day public comment period. After review and consideration of comments received, the Department finalizes the Methods Document and publishes it on the Department's website along with agency responses to the comments received. The draft 303(d) List is submitted to USEPA for approval along with the two-year TMDL schedule and priority ranking.
- Draft 303(d) List: After the Methods Document is finalized, the Department compiles all readily available data that meets data quality and submission requirements, and assesses the data to determine compliance with surface water quality standards and support of applicable designated uses. The results of these assessments are presented in the Integrated List and the 303(d) List. However, pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act, only the draft 303(d) List is subject to public participation requirements. Once the Department has received informal approval from USEPA, the Department publishes the draft 303(d) List on its website along with the final Methods Document. A notice is published in the New Jersey Register announcing that the Methods Document has been finalized and that the Draft 303(d) List is available for public review and comment.
- Final 303(d) List and Integrated Report: After review and consideration of comments received on the proposed 303(d) List, the final 303(d) List is revised as needed and submitted to USEPA for formal approval. USEPA is required to act on the formal submission within 30 days. After receiving USEPA approval, the final 303(d) List is adopted by the Department as a Statewide Water Quality Management Plan amendment pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:15. The final 303(d) List is published on the Department's website along with the agency responses to public comments and the entire Integrated Report, including the Integrated List of Waters and related documents. A notice of adoption of the final 303(d) List is then published in the New Jersey Register.
Links to specific assessment cycles, including current and historic water quality assessment documents, is available on the New Jersey Integrated Water Quality Assessment Report webpage.
For more information, please contact Kimberly Cenno, Bureau Chief,
Bureau of Environmental Analysis, Restoration and Standards at (609) 633-1441.