New DEP Efforts May Stop North Jersey's 23 Billion Gallons of Raw Sewage From Hitting Jersey Shore Beaches

TOMS RIVER-Ocean County officials are praising the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s plan to require permits to any entity discharging more than 2,000 gallons of sanitary wastewater per day in the state.

In January, the state issued 25 final permits to improve surface water quality in urban parts of the state by requiring municipalities and wastewater authorities to develop strategies to reduce pollution from combined sewer overflows.

The DEP permits require the development of long-term control plans to address 217 combined sewer overflow (CSO) discharge points in the state. Most are located in the New York-New Jersey Harbor region.

Combined sewer systems are shared underground piping networks that direct both sewage and stormwater to a central treatment system before it discharges into a water body. During heavy rainfall or significant snowmelt, the systems overflow, causing discharges of mixed sewage and stormwater that create potential health concerns and diminish enjoyment of the waterways.

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The news and progress has prompted the office of 2015 Freeholder candidate Gerry Little to issue a press release.

“Ocean County beaches have seen the aftermath of what can result from this practice,” said Ocean County Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little. “I am happy to see the DEP stand its ground and deny exemptions from new rules it enacted on July 1.”

The county said in a press release,  according to a report in “The Record” on July 7, 18 towns or utilities across the state were denied requests to the DEP to forego the new regulations. Towns and utilities authorities requested the exemptions mostly because they didn’t have time to develop new plans to reduce the dumping of sewage and because the costs are prohibitive.

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The new DEP rules call for towns and utilities authorities to employ immediate minimum controls, while allowing them three to five years to work on long term control plans for the upgrade of treatment facilities and the separation of sewage flow from stormwater outfalls.

The state estimates that 23 billion gallons of raw sewage and other pollutants pour into New Jersey’s rivers and bays each year from 217 outfall pipes operated by systems located in northern municipalities.

This effluent flows into New York Harbor and during nor’easters debris slicks can be blown down along the New Jersey shoreline.

“This potentially has a negative effect on our beaches,” Little said.

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