All State Policies: New Jersey
Below are short descriptions of relevant state agencies/departments by policy topic, followed by more information on specific policies.
Drinking Water: New Jersey Department of Environment Protection (DEP)’s Division of Water Supply and Geoscience’s mission is to, “works to ensure New Jersey’s water supply is adequate, reliable, safe, and available for the future, based on sound science.” DWSG administers the SDWA as well as laws, regulations, and rules related to water quality and supply, wells, water allocation, management and finance, and drinking water standards. The Department of Health Drinking Water and Public Health Project “provides information to the public and works together with regulators to provide clean, safe drinking water to New Jersey residents” in collaboration with NJ DEP. New Jersey has over 600 community water systems which provide drinking water to approximately 87% of the State’s population. The State of New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has a Division of Water which regulates 32 water and wastewater utilities.
Environmental Justice: New Jersey’s environmental justice law and policies are regulated and implemented by a number of agencies, most prominently the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which houses an Office of Environmental Justice. The Office guides DEP’s programs and other state departments and agencies in implementing environmental justice. The Department of Community Affairs, the Department of Health, and the Department of Law and Public Safety all have roles in addressing EJ in New Jersey, such as mapping overburdened communities and holding polluters accountable through environmental enforcement.
Bolstering CWA Protections
SB 994/AB 3329 An Act concerning local and public utility service and affordability
September 13, 2022 Signed into law
This legislation requires the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to collect data on consumers’ ability to afford utility bills, including water and sewer bills, and the extent of water shutoffs due to non-payment. Utilities (both private and publicly owned) must share monthly data on rates, the number of customer disconnection notes sent due to bill non-payment, service disconnections due to bill non-payment, service reconnections of customers disconnected for bill non-payment, and average time between service disconnection due to non-payment and service reconnection. Other data collected includes the number of customers enrolled in deferred payment agreements at the end of each month, and the total dollar amount of arrears and average amount of arrears per customer.
Utilities must report on available customer assistance programs, “including terms of eligibility, available budget for each program, and any enhancements to the programs that are being made to address anticipated increased demand; [and] the number of customers that applied for financial assistance under each applicable utility assistance program.”
Senate Bill 968/A2863
This law requires public water systems to provide written notice of elevated lead levels in drinking water to customers and local officials within ten days; requires landlords to notify tenants of elevated lead levels within three days of notice. Bills and Joint Resolutions were signed by the Governor in May 2021.
Safe Drinking Water Act Rules, Private Well Testing, Ground Water Quality Standards, and Related Requirements for PFOA and PFOS
Rules proposed 4/1/2019, Adopted 3/31/2020, and went into effect 6/1/2020
Set a maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 14 ppt for PFOA and 13 ppt for PFOS in drinking water. The MCLs apply to public community and public noncommunity water systems.
The Department of Environmental Protection adopted amendments to the New Jersey Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) rules at N.J.A.C. 7:10 to establish, as recommended by the New Jersey Drinking Water Quality Institute (Institute), a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) of 0.014 micrograms per liter (µg/l) and an MCL for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) of 0.013 µg/l.
“Public community and public noncommunity water systems are required to routinely monitor for contaminants for which MCLs have been established and to treat water when there is an exceedance of an MCL. Public community water systems are water systems that have at least 15 service connections used by year-round residents, or regularly serve at least 25 year-round residents. Public noncommunity water systems include public nontransient noncommunity and public transient noncommunity water systems. Public nontransient noncommunity water systems do not serve year-round residents but do serve at least 25 of the same individuals for more than six months of any calendar year. Examples include schools or office parks that have their own water source.”
“Department is also adopting amendments to the Private Well Testing Act (PWTA) rules at N.J.A.C. 7:9E to require testing of private wells subject to sale or lease and to amend the SDWA rules to require testing of newly constructed wells for public noncommunity water systems and nonpublic water systems for PFNA, PFOA, and PFOS.”
“The Department is adopting amendments to the Ground Water Quality Standards (GWQS) at N.J.A.C. 7:9C to establish a specific ground water quality standard for PFOA of 0.014 µg/l and a specific ground water quality standard for PFOS of 0.013 µg/l. The Department previously established a specific ground water quality standard for PFNA on January 16, 2018 (see 50 N.J.R. 334(a)). Once adopted, the new ground water quality standards for PFOA and PFOS will also serve as the remediation standards for cleanup of contaminated ground water in accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:26D-2.2(a).
Further, and in accordance with the New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NJPDES) rules at N.J.A.C. 7:14A, the Department is adopting the addition of PFNA, PFOA, and PFOS to the Permit Application Testing Requirements/Pollutant Listings and the Requirements for Discharges to Ground Water.”
Water Quality Accountability Act (N.J.S.A. 58:31-1)
Enacted 7/21/2017, went into effect 10/19/2017
The WQAA established new requirements for purveyors of public water to improve the safety, reliability, and administrative oversight of water infrastructure. Asset management of infrastructure capital assets (pumps, motors, pipes, etc.) aims to minimize the total cost of owning and operating these assets in order to ensure planned maintenance can be done on time with adequate funding. All water purveyors who have an internet-connected control system must develop a Cybersecurity Plan.
Environmental Justice Law (SB 232)
Signed and went into effect on 9/18/2020
This legislation made New Jersey the first state in the country to require mandatory permit denials if an environmental justice analysis determines a new facility will have a disproportionately negative impact on overburdened communities. It defines “overburdened community” as “any census block group, as determined in accordance with the most recent United States Census, in which: (1) at least 35 percent of the households qualify as low-income households; (2) at least 40 percent of the residents identify as minority or as members of a State recognized tribal community; or (3) at least 40 percent of the households have limited English proficiency.”
Permit applicants for new facilities or expansion of existing facilities must assess “the potential environmental and public health stressors associated with the proposed new or expanded facility, or with the existing major source, as applicable, including any adverse environmental or public health stressors that cannot be avoided if the permit is granted, and the environmental or public health stressors already borne by the overburdened community as a result of existing conditions located in or affecting the overburdened community.” Public hearings in the overburdened community must also be conducted.
In September 2021 DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette issued an Administrative Order to meet the legislative intent of this law as DEP promulgates regulations. A list of overburdened communities has been developed. More information can be found on the DEP website.
Executive Order No. 23
Signed on 4/20/2018
Governor Philip Murphy signed Executive Order No 23, directing DEP, in consultation with the Department of Law and Public Safety and other relevant departments, “to take the lead in developing guidance for all Executive branch departments and agencies for the consideration of Environmental Justice in implementing their statutory and regulatory responsibilities.” It directed DEP to lead development of guidance to consider EJ within 6 months. “Following publication of final guidance, all Executive branch departments and agencies shall consider the issue of Environmental Justice and make evaluations and assessments in accordance with that guidance, to the extent not inconsistent with law.” The Order also extended EJAC, which was set to expire.
The guidance developed by DEP can be viewed here, “Furthering the Promise: A Guidance Document for Advancing Environmental Justice Across State Government.”
Executive Order No. 131
Signed on 2/5/2009
This Executive Order by Governor Corzine replaced EO 96, which was set to expire. It extended the work of EJAC to 2013, reconfiguring it as a 15-person body appointed by the Commissioner of DEP. The Order directs executive branch departments, agencies, boards, commissions, and any and all other bodies of the State’s Executive branch to provide “appropriate opportunities for all persons, regardless of race, ethnicity, color, religion, income, or education level to participate in decision-making. Programs to promote and protect human health and the environment shall be reviewed periodically to ensure that they: (a) meet the needs of persons living in low-income communities and communities of color; and (b) address disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards.”
Executive Order No. 96
Signed on 2/18/2004
This Executive Order by Governor McGreevey established an initial EJ framework for all executive branch departments, agencies, boards, commissions related to environmental quality and public health to follow. It created an advisory multi-agency Environmental Justice Task Force spearheaded by DEP and DHSS. Allowed communities to file petitions related to environmental health risks, develop Action Plans with selected communities to reduce environmental burdens. “Any community may file a petition with the Task Force that asserts that residents and workers in the community are subject to disproportionate adverse exposure to environmental health risks, or disproportionate adverse effects resulting from the implementation of laws affecting public health or the environment.” Reconstituted the Environmental Justice Advisory Council (EJAC)- an advisory body to DEP, composed of a range of stakeholders appointed by Commissioner of DEP. (In 2018, EO 23 extended EJAC).
In 1998 New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shinn created an Environmental Equity Task Force (later known as EJAC). An historical overview of DEP’s EJ program through 2018 can be viewed here.