Ocean County committee to address stormwater issues

Stressing the importance of preserving and protecting the Barnegat Bay Watershed, Ocean County is taking the next steps in implementing new stormwater management regulations.

The Ocean County Board of Freeholders has agreed to create a technical advisory committee to review and make recommendations on stormwater issues, including regional issues affecting more than one municipality.

In addition, the Ocean County Planning Board will be designated the official review agency for municipal stormwater management plans.

“This agency will help provide a proactive approach to the state’s requirements,” said Freeholder Gerry P. Little, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Planning Department.

According to a press release, the county has been working with its municipalities, the Environmental Joint Insurance Fund and a consultant to develop a series of ordinances and plans needed to comply with new measures developed by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) last year.

According to the DEP, the first rule required counties and municipalities to adopt a pollution prevention plan, which will essentially address existing development.

The second rule requires municipalities to prepare a stormwater management plan to address future development.

Little said compliance with the pollution prevention plan requirements, enforced by the state, is nearing completion. He added the PMK Group hired by the county last year provided assistance to the towns and the county in developing strategies to meet the plan requirements.

Under the plan, towns are required to adopt a pollution prevention plan which addresses municipal activities such as street sweeping, public vehicle washing, salt storage, and housekeeping practices for their public works facilities. Counties also are required to implement new practices for public complexes, road department garages and vehicle services, as well as activities on county roads and drainage facilities.

Little noted that county departments like the Ocean County Road Department and Buildings and Grounds have been involved in developing the plan and county workers are being trained to make sure the plan is implemented.

“We also will offer training to municipalities so the benefits of these plans will be felt countywide,” Little said.

The second rule, according to the state, requires municipalities to adopt a stormwater management plan.

The rule is targeted to new development, and is designed to maximize rainwater recharge and minimize pollutant loading to nearby streams and other bodies of water.

The Barnegat Bay National Estuary Programs Comprehensive Management Plan addresses items in these new regulations and will be a benefit to the municipalities, said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as liaison to the bay program.