Proposed Revisions to the New Jersey Water Quality Management Planning Rule Likely to be Finalized in 2016

January 25, 2016
Bruce S. Katcher, Esq.
MGKF Special Alert - Forecast 2016

Major revisions to New Jersey’s Water Quality Management Planning (WQMP) Rules, initially proposed by NJDEP in October 2015, should be finalized during 2016.  These revisions are aimed primarily at addressing problems associated with the requirements imposed by the 2008 version of the WQMP rules that required all wastewater management planning agencies to submit updated wastewater management plans by April 2009 (later administratively extended to 2011).  Because many planning agencies were late in submitting or did not submit these plans and the rules did not allow for site specific plan amendments on a case-by-case basis, development which was required to be consistent with existing the existing WQMP as a precondition to issuance of other NJDEP permits and approvals could not proceed and existing wastewater sewer service area designations in areas covered by non-compliant planning agencies were withdrawn. This was partially rectified by the Legislature in 2012 and 2013, which enacted legislation allowing site specific amendments in areas where there up-to-date WQMPs did not exist, however that legislation expired on January 17, 2016. The newly proposed rules would update the WQMP planning process to facilitate the adoption of up-to-date plans and would allow site-specific amendments while this process was taking place. They would also make changes to other requirements, including provisions on threatened and endangered species habitat and natural heritage sites, which have been controversial.  The comment period on these regulations ended in December and the regulations should be finalized by October 2016.