Both the Assembly and the Senate passed a bill today which would avoid the withdrawal of many wastewater and sewer service areas (SSAs). Under this legislation, the current deadline of January 17, 2014 would be extended up to two years. The bill is currently awaiting approval from Governor Chris Christie.

The current Water Quality Management Planning rules (“WQMP rules”) require wastewater planning agencies, which are typically county governing bodies, to submit a wastewater management plan to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) by January 17, 2014. If the wastewater planning agency fails to submit a wastewater management plan by the statutory deadline, then the current SSAs would be withdrawn. Without SSAs in place, new development would essentially be prohibited.

This bill would extend the deadline for wastewater planning agencies to submit a wastewater management plan to the earlier of (1) January 17, 2016 or (2) the date of adoption of rules or regulations that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) specifically states in a notice in the New Jersey Register are intended to obviate the need for the current rules and meet the purposes of the Water Quality Planning Act.

The proposed legislation also changes the definition of site specific amendments to allow for more site specific amendments. Site specific amendments would include amendments to a wastewater management and water quality management plan that permit a specific proposed development project or activity that has (1) a wastewater planning flow of less than 50,000 gallons per day, which was increased from less than 20,000 gallons per day, or (2) a proposed sewer service area of less than 100 acres. The NJDEP can choose to adopt the site specific amendment as proposed, adopt the site specific amendment with changes, or disapprove the site specific amendment.

NJDEP is current working on new WQMP rules with stakeholders, including Sills Cummis & Gross’s Andrew Robins.

For a copy of the bill, click here.