New Jersey's updated sewer service maps, produced ahead of an EPA mandated deadline "after years of confusion, disputes and rule changes," are pitting those who believe the plans set out a blueprint for smart growth with those who decry the loosening of environmental protections, writes Capuzzo.
"In a news release announcing the counties' compliance with a July 15 deadline to submit their updated maps, the Department of Environmental Protection praised the maps for 'protecting nearly 210,000 acres of environmentally sensitive lands and better safeguarding the state's water quality.' But for environmentalists, this number is more than 90,000 acres shy of the 300,000 acres once deemed environmentally sensitive and expected to be shielded from sewer service development."
"David Pringle, campaign director for the New Jersey Environmental Federation, said a more accurate headline for the maps would be 'Gov. Chris Christie reinstates 100,000 acres into development area.'"
Lawrence Hajna, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, counters that, "The 300,000 acres was just a starting point - a ballpark number to begin the actual mapping process." He contends that, "The current 209,000 acres deemed sensitive reflect more up-to-date data..."
"The counties' new sewer maps, which are expected to receive final approval by the end of the year, represent the first in a three-step process to address water management issues," notes Capuzzo.