RANDOLPH, NJ - The state of New Jersey recently updated the municipal requires for Clean Water Act, balancing the workload for each municipality and the need to protect water from pollutants. Township Engineer Paul Ferriero explained the background and updates of these regulations to the council at Thursday’s meeting.

In 1969, an oil slick on the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio caught fire due to a spark from a train, destroying several rail trestles and exposing the serious water pollution problem, Ferriero detailed.

“I thought about this last weekend; I drove on a bridge across the Cuyahoga River,” Ferriero said. “That’s where it all started.”

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“Growing public awareness and concern for controlling water pollution led to sweeping amendments in 1972,” according to the EPA.

Local business owners run into this regulation when a site development requires paving a parking lot. The state only requires review when sites disturb an acre of land or create a quarter-acre of new impervious coverage. However, Randolph has a local ordinance to manage the smaller lots in this area.

“Under the state stormwater regulations,...if you disturb an acre, you don’t have to do anything, and that’s a real problem,” Ferriero said. The local ordinance reduces the acre regulation to 2500 square feet of disturbance and 1000 square feet of new impervious surface. “We’ve been doing that for a number of years, it’s working very well. Solved quite a number of problems.”

Stormwater management also includes testing the water running into lakes and rivers. If the municipality receives a bad water sample, they begin to work their way upstream cleaning the inlets and basins and ensuring that no excess oils runoff of parking lots. Ferriero compared this process to N.Y. state which requires samples to be collected during a rainstorm before cleaning begins.

The additional regulations for the stormwater management focus on education for the council or planning board members and requirements to post documents, such as a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, on the township website in the future.

While a stormwater management plan has already been adopted through the township master plan, the engineering office will review and confirm the plan is current.

The biggest challenge in this process is finding the resources to meet the requirements, Ferriero continued. The engineering team will complete many tasks and projects to keep the township in line with these latest rules. including an inventory of retention and detention basins to develop a maintenance schedule.

Many people ask if these regulations make a difference in the water supply, and Ferriero said one of his friends, an avid ocean fisherman, has noticed the improvement in fish and algae.

“He has told me there’s a large algae plume [in the Raritan Bay]... but since this permit’s been adopted, it’s been smaller and later every year,” Ferriero concluded. “So it is making a difference.”