New Jersey’s Water Quality Planning Act Withstands Regulatory Challenge

August/September 2011Articles Eastern Water Law & Policy Reporter
Appellant Bi-County Development Corporation unsuccessfully challenged New Jersey's Water Quality Management Planning Rules (WQMP), which prohibited in pertinent part sewage lines being extended into "environmentally sensitive areas" including wetlands, riparian zones, endangered species habitat, and areas with national heritage priority status. Bi-County Development Corporation simultaneously challenged a corollary regulation that set a maximum nitrate level for septic system discharge. The builder's primary challenge was that the regulations promulgated by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) were not really wetlands protection or water protection regulations but rather land use regulations limiting density and therefore had been incompetently promulgated and approved. The New Jersey State Appellate Division found in favor of NJDEP because the water pollution control regulations were necessary in order to prevent deterioration of wetlands and riparian zones as well as other sensitive areas.