New Report on Metedeconk River (NJ) Watershed
Lakewood, NJ, 1/20/2004 – The Metedeconk Source Water Stewardship Exchange Team Report will be released at a press conference on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 at 11:00 a.m. at an event at Georgian Court College in Lakewood, New Jersey. The report, issued by the nonprofit Trust for Public Land, recommends protective measures for the water quantity and quality of the Metedeconk River. The recommendations were made by a team of experts who evaluated conditions in the Metedeconk River Watershed during the summer of 2003.
The report urges the watershed community to act immediately to manage its water resources and to establish a forum to coordinate water resource planning and protection efforts among jurisdictions and stakeholders.
“It is our hope that this and similar efforts will raise awareness of the issues related to the protection of water quantity and quality and bring about meaningful dialogue between the stakeholders,” said Leigh Rae, New Jersey Field Office director of the Trust for Public Land. “Long-term planning is needed to manage the Metedeconk River system for its ecological, aesthetic, and community value, as well as its significance as a potable water supply.”
The Metedeconk River and its tributaries flow through Freehold, Howell, Millstone, and Wall townships in Monmouth County, and Brick, Lakewood, and Jackson townships in Ocean County. It is the primary source of water for the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority (MUA), which provides drinking water to the residents of Brick Township, Point Pleasant Borough, and Point Pleasant Beach Borough. In an effort to increase its storage capacity and plan for future water supply needs, the Brick MUA is currently building a one billion-gallon reservoir. The reservoir’s water will also be drawn from the Metedeconk River.
“Protection of our watershed resources is critical to a sustainable future for our communities,” said Brick Township Mayor Joseph C. Scarpelli. “This report gives us a strong base from which to work.”
Upstream communities in the watershed rely on groundwater for their water supply, but groundwater and surface water are closely linked in this region due to the underlying geology and soil characteristics. The report makes clear the interconnectedness of groundwater and surface water supplies.
The report’s recommendations included:
- Act immediately to manage water resources;
- Establish coordinated leadership to manage the watershed as a shared resource;
- Understand the watershed-create a shared understanding of watershed functioning and threats in order to inform and support sound land protection and management strategies;
- Educate-create an informed, involved and influential public;
- Protect and restore critical natural land;
- Manage growth-direct growth to minimize impact on the environment; and
- Fund conservation and restoration strategies-create and sustain dedicated funding.
A central theme in the report is the need to manage sprawl and channel growth away from environmentally sensitive areas. It also addresses the potential benefits of Low Impact Development (LID) design strategies.
The release of the Source Water Stewardship Exchange Team Report comes when water resource protection is getting significant attention at the state and local levels. Designation of the Metedeconk River and its tributaries as Category One (C1) waterways, the highest level of protection afforded to waterways in the state, is pending. While the C1 designation will control impacts to water quality, it does not to address water quantity issues.
The new report is part of a Source Water Stewardship Project being conducted by the Trust for Public Land and funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Other project partners include the University of Massachusetts and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. The purpose of the project is to demonstrate the use of land conservation and forest management practices to protect drinking water supplies.
The Metedeconk River Watershed was one of four pilot watersheds along the eastern seaboard chosen to participate in the project. The project is locally led and driven by a steering committee comprised of representatives from the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority, Brick Township, Freehold Soil Conservation District, and Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
The Source Water Stewardship Project is being conducted in three phases: analysis and assessment, stewardship exchange, and implementation. The newly released report will be the basis of this implementation phase. For more information or to download a copy of the report, visit www.tpl.org/landandwater.