Antiquated sewer systems and their CSOs can limit growth potential, quality of life and environmental quality of New Jersey cities significantly.
In July 2015, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued new permits to the operators of these systems, requiring that they develop, adopt and implement plans to control overflows of raw sewage. Jersey Water Works is working with a range of stakeholders to encourage permittees not just to comply with the minimum requirements of the permits, but to see this as an opportunity to employ a variety of strategies that bring them into regulatory compliance and also deliver a range of health and economic benefits to the affected communities.
What has already been done?
Communities and wastewater treatment plants throughout New Jersey already have taken steps toward reducing their overflows. This includes installing grates, netting chambers and other infrastructure to reduce the amount of trash that goes into the sewer and eventually out into the waterways. In addition, communities have invested in upgrades that have eliminated 64 of the state’s 281 CSO outfalls.
What does the new permit require?
New Jersey’s new CSO permits are intended to meet the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act and the national CSO policy by reducing or eliminating the state’s remaining 217 CSO outfalls. The permit has two major components. The first part is continuing work on nine Minimum Controls, which communities already have been required to implement. The second part is following the steps toward developing a Long Term Control Plan (LTCP). (The permits themselves, and a host of explanatory and supporting information, can be found on the NJDEP website)
About Long Term Control Plans
The Long Term Control Plans that CSO permit holders must develop will evaluate a range of alternatives to address CSOs. Public input and cost-effectiveness of the alternatives are two of the many factors permit-holders will use to decide which alternatives to implement. Permit-holders must take several major steps toward developing a comprehensive plan for their sewer systems, including:
- Developing a detailed understanding, also known as a characterization, of the sewer system.
- Modeling how rain and snow melt affect the flows and overflows.
- Identifying potential solutions that would reduce or stop overflows. These include gray infrastructure and green infrastructure.
- Engaging residents, community groups, and business owners about what solutions they suggest and support.
- Evaluating which options will have the most impact at the lowest cost. This can include considering the additional benefits that certain options, such as green infrastructure, may have on the overall community.
The Jersey Water Works Community Engagement Committee has developed graphic images for signage that can be used by combined sewer system cities and towns, organizations, and individuals to educate the general public on combined sewer overflows. These images have been approved by NJDEP for permit holders to use to help fulfill their NJ CSO permit public participation requirement.
CSOs in New Jersey
The map below shows the locations of state-permitted discharge points in New Jersey. Zoom in and out using the + and – buttons to discover where outfalls are in your community.
Map of courtesy S.P. Sullivan/NJ Advance Media
Is There Raw Sewage in Our Waterways (NJTV News)
This fact sheet provides an overview of the CSO issue in New Jersey, by describing the problem, new regulatory requirement, and potential solutions. New Jersey Future. 2015.
This fact sheet frames the CSO issue in New Jersey by providing a host of facts about combined sewer systems, including their discharges, demographic and other information on their host municipalities and regional sewer utilities, and CSO solutions. A map is included. New Jersey Future. 2015.
This report was developed by Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey team led by Daniel J. Van Abs Ph.D. PP AICP. It focuses on the 21 New Jersey municipalities that have combined sewer systems and examines issues regarding water supply and wastewater capacity for these municipalities. Water and Sewer System Ownership and Management Map: A detailed review of water and sewer system ownership and management, including collection systems and treatment plants, in New Jersey CSO municipalities.