Water Resources stands as a major initiative integrating natural resources with existing and proposed infrastructure to significantly inform the development and updating of the Comprehensive Master Plan elements prepared by the Division of Environmental Sustainability. Water quality is an essential resource for the future generations and health of our natural resources. On a watershed area basis, key projects address best management practices for a balance of grey infrastructure and green infrastructure for effective stormwater management and future sustainable land use planning. The major watersheds and their tributaries (i.e. Lower Raritan River, Rahway River, Cheesequake Creek and the Arthur Kill) represent a critical resource requiring thoughtful attention by planners. The Division of Comprehensive Planning and the Environment is involved in several initiatives to enhance and protect the value of this key resource.
Questions regarding Water Resources initiatives should be directed to the Division of Environmental Sustainability at 732-745-3016.
Manalapan Brook Watershed Restoration Project Implementation
As part of the education and outreach component of this program, The Rutgers University Middlesex County Cooperative Extension Service is developing a series of descriptive and instructional videos explaining the program in addition to construction and maintenance guides for county and local public works staff. The first of these videos, "Restoring the Manalapan Brook Watershed, An Introduction" can be viewed below.
About the Manalapan Brook Watershed
Working with a team of stakeholders and consultants from the NJ Water Supply Authority, Princeton Hydro and NJDEP staff of the Water Resources Program, a Manalapan Brook Watershed Protection and Restoration Plan was approved by NJDEP in 2012, making the projects of the plan eligible for funding through the federal 319h program established by the Clean Water Act of 1972. The primary plan goal is to implement best management practices and green infrastructure measures to lower the rate of total suspended solids in local water bodies caused by erosion and runoff from developed areas in the Manalapan Brook Watershed. The plan included two demonstration projects: a rain garden and a 100 linear foot of a lakefront vegetation buffer. See links, below for the Plan document, sign formats and brochures on these projects.
In 2013, NJDEP authorized $500,000.00 for the implementation of the first five Phase One projects as well as a NJDEP approved project addressing the improvement of the zoo enclosure pond in Middlesex County’s Thompson Park. The remaining phase one projects involve “state of the art” detention basin retrofits in Monroe Township, Middlesex County and Manalapan Township, Monmouth (in the headwaters of the watershed); a stream segment restoration with grade improvements in Monroe Township; and an additional 500 linear feet of shoreline re-vegetation at Manalapan Lake. The remaining list of proposed projects of the Plan is anticipated to be achieved through subsequent 319h grants over the next 10 years. Public outreach and education materials are being developed in Phase One.
Wastewater Management Plan
The original Lower Raritan-Middlesex County Wastewater Management Plan was adopted in 2000 and went through several minor revisions throughout the years. The NJDEP regulations in 2007 required a complete update of the Plan. This technical plan addresses the many regional factors impacting wastewater management and relates each of the 25 municipalities in Middlesex County by subwatershed affiliation and in individual municipal chapters. Calling upon assistance from other Middlesex County agencies and local governments for current information and assistance, Division staff authored the new Middlesex County Wastewater Management Plan without outside consultants, saving the county taxpayers over one million dollars in outside consultant fees.
The plan provides a comprehensive assessment of regional development trends and potential impact upon sanitary treatment facilities, carrying capacities for areas of municipalities only to be served by individual septic systems within discrete HUC11 sub-watersheds and requires municipal compliance to NJDEP proposed environmental ordinances and phased adherence to septic management plans. The plan discusses the environmental methodology used to identify all environmentally sensitive land to remain at lower density development associated with minimum area requirements of individual onsite septic systems and the composition of future sanitary sewer service areas. The Plan horizon of the current update of the Wastewater Management Plan is 2035 with updates required every six years. The process for revision and amendments has been preserved to allow for individual requests. See links below for the procedure to request revisions and amendments.
Middlesex County Wastewater Management Plan Revision/Amendment Request Materials
NJDEP Water Quaiity Management Plan SIte Specific Amendment & Revision Application Checklist
for Administrative Completeness Form E
Lower Raritan River Watershed - The Sustainable Raritan River Collaborative (SRRC)
In early 2009, a group of concerned environmentalists, regional and local officials, and consultants joined staff from Rutgers to form the Sustainable Raritan River Collaborative (SRRC) to craft an action agenda that meets the goals of the U.S. Clean Water Act, restoring and preserving New Jersey’s Raritan River and its tributaries, including the Raritan Bay. This network of organizations and agencies in the Raritan River region work together to promote the integration of sound planning and a vision for the Raritan River region that balances social, economic and environmental objectives. The Collaborative is facilitated by Rutgers University (as the Sustainable Raritan River Initiative) with the input and guidance from a Steering Committee.
The Division of Comprehensive Planning and the Environment is a leading Middlesex County participant in the Sustainable Raritan River Collaborative, supporting and developing projects and programs for the Lower Raritan River watershed within the lands of Middlesex County.The Division provided significant input to the SRRC on regional focus groups developing to the Sustainable Raritan River Action Plan.
With encouragement and considerable input from Division staff, the New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program has supported projects in the Lower Raritan River watershed and accessed funds for two projects within Middlesex County. In 2011, the Division participated in an Association of New Jersey Environmental Commission (ANJEC) project entitled “Stewardship of the Raritan River” that focused on identifying public access points and public education signage within the Lower Raritan River corridor. In 2012 the HEP launched a Climate-Ready Estuaries project to look at projected sea level rise and evaluate site-specific vulnerability at three publicly accessible recreation areas long the Raritan River: Donaldson Park, in Highland Park New Jersey, Old Bridge Waterfront Park in Lawrence Harbor, NJ, and Woodbridge Waterfront Park, a to-be-developed waterfront park in Woodbridge, NJ.
Robinson's Branch Watershed Stormwater Management Planning Area
The Robinson Branch Watershed involves the northern areas of Edison Township (4.85 sq. mi. of 30.7 sq. mi.) and Woodbridge Township (2.08 sq. mi. of 24.49 sq. mi.) in Middlesex County, as well as portions of seven Union County municipalities, for a 22 square mile subwatershed within Watershed Management Area 7. The Robinson’s Branch discharges to the Rahway River. In 2005, the Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension Water Resources Program, under the guidance of Christopher C. Obropta, Ph.D., P.E. and with input from both Middlesex County and Union County completed a regional stormwater management plan according to N.J.A.C. 7:8-3.4(a). Middlesex County will consider the recommendations seriously in future watershed planning for this watershed. The contents of this study can be accessed at this link: Regional Stormwater Management Plan for Robinson's Branch
Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Raritan Scholars Program
Starting in 2013, each semester we have hosted several Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Raritan Scholars interns to provide assistance on Lower Raritan River watershed planning projects. The scholars are working on a phased Greenways Feasibility Study includes land use and ownership research, interviews with stakeholders, and field work to test conceptual alignments of a contiguous greenway trail in the river corridor and a similarly phased River/Arts Connection project in coordination with our riverfront towns. A trial public art mural project with Highland Park is well underway and similar greenway initiative and arts projects are planned for Edison and Woodbridge.