New Jersey Stormwater Developments – New Utilities Legislation and Regs?

January 14, 2019
Bruce S. Katcher, Esq.
MGKF Special Alert - New Jersey Forecast 2019

In June 2018, a bill passed the New Jersey Senate (S-1073) that would authorize municipalities, counties and certain municipal or county authorities to establish stormwater utilities with related fees and other charges to recover the utility’s costs for stormwater management.  The fees would be collected from the owner or occupant of any property from which stormwater runoff originates and enters the stormwater management system.  Credits against the fees would be available for any property which has installed and maintains stormwater best management practices that reduce, retain or treat stormwater onsite or property that installs, operates and maintains green infrastructure onsite.   Contracts with private entities to plan, design, construct, operate and maintain the stormwater systems are authorized.

The companion bill, A-2694, was reported from the Assembly Telecommunications Committee in October 2018 and sent to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Business organizations have attacked the bills on the grounds that they will impose new taxes on industry which will be duplicative of existing permit requirements that impose costs of building and maintaining stormwater management equipment on the permittees.

Bills seeking to authorize the establishment of stormwater utilities have been introduced in several past legislative sessions without advancing to enactment.  Whether this bill will yet see the light of day remains to be seen, however it seems to stand at least an even chance of passing the Assembly and being enacted into law in 2019. 

Along a parallel track, NJDEP proposed changes to its stormwater regulations on December 3.  The change that has attracted the most attention is the proposal to require new major developments toincorporate green infrastructure “to the maximum extent practicable” in order to meet groundwater recharge standards, stormwater runoff quantity standards, and stormwater runoff quality standards. This would replace the current requirement to incorporate nonstructural stormwater management strategies to meet these standards. Environmental groups have criticized the proposal for not addressing stormwater at existing developments, while developers have expressed hope for the increased flexibility that green infrastructure options may afford.   Written comments on the proposal are due by February 1 and a final rule is expected before the end of the year.