OPINION: Not Enough Water For All This Development

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During the last part of Gov. Christie’s administration, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection released their “Water Management Act” of 2017. This program was last published in 1996 and was supposed to be done every 5 years. Now we are 22 years behind, and much has changed in this state since 1996.

With ever-growing development planned and executed since then, our water forecast looks grim. With ever more construction planned in Ocean County alone, i.e. from Manchester (at the Heritage Minerals site) to Forked River in Lacey Township (plans are to add 30,000 new residents), in Barnegat (another 20,000), and in Manahawkin, Stafford Township, the Walters Homes Co. plans to bring development to the intersection of Route 9 and Route 72. Just considering traffic issues – and not just during the summer months when tourists want to reach the shore towns – we here in Ocean County are already choking on traffic year-round and the state does not have the resources to fund all new roads.

The Water Management Act of 2017 clearly states that there will be clean drinking water shortages in many areas of New Jersey. Our area suffers from a water deficit by 58.8 MGD (million gallons per day) in Maurice, Salem and Cohansey Water Management Area. We may be out of water by 2020 and so will be some northern areas near the Delaware Water Gap and on the east in Hudson, Hackensack, Middle Passaic, Whippany and Rockaway WMA. And with water shortages, these new homes in planned development areas will turn on their spigot with NO water coming out! That will bring in saltwater intrusion with rotting water and sewer lines, rotting indoor plumbing including washing machines, hot water heaters and certainly complete failure of private wells.

Records show that in 1950, Lacey Township had 966 residents! Of course that changed after Oyster Creek was built and lower property taxes brought in many new residents. Union Township had 1,173 people, Stafford had 1,347 people, and Jackson Twp. had 3,513 residents according to Ocean County records. Now one has to wonder what lack of clean drinking water will hold for the future in these areas. Remember, the date for lack of water is forecasted to be close: 2020 (A year and a half from now!)

Margit Meissner-Jackson
Acting Chair and Conservation Chair
Sierra Club, Ocean County Group

 

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