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With the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) preparing to issue new stormwater permits to businesses and organizations after the expiry date of their current ones at the end of this month, an alliance of environmental groups has called for the introduction of more stringent rules regarding runoff from municipal storm sewers and developed sites in the hope that this could reduce water pollution in the state.
The environmental groups have sent a letter to the state DEP, claiming that current rules do little to prevent water pollution. As rain or melted snow travels to bodies of water, the runoff accumulates toxic chemicals from the land, including pet waste, fertilizer, pesticides, bacteria and grease that end up in New Jersey's waterways. The alliance claimed that this was in fact the largest source of water pollution in the state.
RELATED: EPA proposes updates to stormwater permit rules
DEP spokesman Larry Hajna said that the department had received a petition from the environmental organizations and stated that the DEP will provide them with a detailed response. He added that storm water permits are set to be updated by the end of the year, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported.
Hajna also pointed out that New Jersey's storm water permits were fully compliant with the federal Clean Water Act and that there were certain standards that were "more specific" than required by the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection. However, the state DEP will be working to improve the storm water permit program, he concluded.