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New Jersey's Integrated Water Quality Assessment Report Released

DEP Releases New Jersey’s 2022 Integrated Water Quality Assessment Report

Public comment sought on 303(d) List of Impaired Waters

TRENTON — The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection today made available its draft Integrated Water Quality Assessment Report. The report shows improving and stabilizing conditions for key water quality parameters over time.

Integrated Water

A 30-day public comment period is now open for the 303(d) list of impaired waters which is part of the NJ Integrated Water Quality Assessment Report. The DEP will carefully review and incorporate comments before the report is submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval. To view the report, visit Integrated Water Quality Assessment Report. Interested persons may submit written comments on the proposed 2022 303(d) list via email to [email protected] or by regular mail.

This statewide assessment conducted by DEP’s Bureau of Environmental Analysis, Restoration and Standards is vital to the state’s efforts to regularly analyze waterbodies to report if water quality conditions have changed over time and to determine whether water quality standards are being met, and designated uses, such as recreation and water supply, are being fully supported. It also identifies causes and sources of water quality impairment and provides both restoration strategies for impaired waters and protection strategies for healthy waters.

The Integrated Report is presented in a web-based format that significantly enhances the user experience by making the information easy to access and read, improving visualization of the water quality results, and improving transparency. It enriches the reader’s understanding of water quality conditions through interactive maps, downloadable tables and links to important water quality information.

This water quality assessment is required by state and federal law and conducted every two years by collecting a vast amount of statewide water monitoring data and incorporating information collected by numerous other sources such as federal and county government agencies, regional commissions, watershed associations, and voluntary citizen monitoring groups. It also includes an intensive assessment of one of the five water regions each assessment cycle; the current 2022 report focuses on the Northeast Water Region (portions of Hudson, Bergen, Essex, Sussex and Morris counties).

Findings from the Integrated Report

Statewide long-term trends over a 35-year period show total phosphorus and total nitrogen improving; however, nitrate, total dissolved solids (TDS), and chloride show increasing concentrations.

Total phosphorus and nitrogen have been improving since the 1980s as wastewater dischargers have regionalized and upgraded to provide secondary treatment, New Jersey’s Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits protect waterways by ensuring proper treatment and discharge of wastewater, and DEP’s nonpoint source pollution programs and local stewardship activities have reduced pollution from stormwater runoff.

Ammonia reduction measures implemented at wastewater treatment plants oxidize ammonia to form nitrate, inadvertently resulting in increased nitrate concentrations. Ammonia is much more detrimental to the environment than nitrate because of its uptake of oxygen and its toxicity to aquatic life.

In the Northeast Water Region, the 2022 results show increasing TDS and chloride impairment when compared to other regions in the state. Runoff from urban and agricultural areas, including runoff of road salt used to control ice on roadways, is the likely cause of increased TDS and chloride concentrations over time.

With 127 miles of coastline, 18,126 miles of rivers and streams, and hundreds of acres of lakes, ponds and marshes, the Integrated Report provides an in-depth analysis of the health of New Jersey's surface waters in approximately 1,000 watersheds and an assessment focusing on the attainment of designated uses, not just pollutants.  

Actions to Improve Water Quality

Numerous programs within DEP are designed to protect, maintain, enhance, and restore water quality by implementing regulatory and non-regulatory actions. These actions include:

  • Developing pollution budgets known as Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs),
  • Developing watershed restoration and protection plans
  • Issuing permits to upgraded wastewater dischargers
  • Regulating stormwater
  • Implementing land use management programs
  • Providing restoration grants
  • Managing nonpoint agricultural runoff
  • Granting financial assistance for infrastructure construction
  • Acquiring land
  • Educating the community
  • Protecting wetlands
  • Controlling air quality, and
  • Enforcing compliance of water regulations

Additional Resources

The following DEP program areas support the Integrated Water Quality Assessment Report through data collection and monitoring, assessment, and implementation through restoration, protection, permitting, and enforcement:

Water Resource Management (WRM) ensures New Jersey has adequate, reliable, safe, and sustainable water for current and future needs, users, and the environment. Water Resource Management

Watershed and Land Management Program (WLM) aligns elements of the Land Use Management and Water Resource Management programs. This alignment unifies and strengthens aspects of the DEP’s land use regulatory programs by taking a watershed-by-watershed approach to our stewardship of land-based resources that have a critical nexus to water quality. Watershed & Land Management