Small Town Comments Could Make a Large Impact with the State
The proposed Haberman 333-unit residential development in Hampton Borough, Hunterdon County inspired an outpouring of community concern about potential water quality impacts to the Musconetcong River.
A groundwater discharge wastewater treatment plant has been proposed to serve the site, as indicated in an application to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). The applicant’s documentation, from earlier court proceedings, demonstrated a direct groundwater connection from the proposed groundwater discharge site to the Musconetcong River.
A review of these files and other documents by Princeton Hydro confirmed the potential for this connection. Princeton Hydro indicated that even if all bacteria and nutrient discharges from the treatment plant were zero, there would still be permanent temperature changes in the Musconetcong River - affecting fish and local wildlife.
Over 300 public comments were submitted to NJDEP from local residents and recreational river users. Comments came from members of Trout Unlimited, NJ League of Conservation Voters, NJ Highlands Coalition, Musconetcong watershed Association, and Friends of the Musconetcong. Over 90 people attended a public hearing about the project, held by the NJDEP in Flemington in January; over 40 people testified at this hearing.
Thank you to all of those who came out in support at the hearing, and for submitting comments!
NJDEP is still counting the number of unique responses. Each comment should receive an individual response which will become part of the public record on the project. NJDEP has several decision making options. They could require additional information from the applicant, deny the application, or approve it - potentially with conditions. While there is no timeline for NJDEP to make a decision, MWA estimates a response within the next two to three months.
MWA also thanks the Environmental Endowment of New Jersey and the William Penn Foundation, which provided grant funding to retain Princeton Hydro, develop comments, conduct public outreach, and support partner organizations to contribute on this project.
This is part of the Great Waters New Jersey initiative. Stay tuned for more efforts to ensure that the Musconetcong River’s water quality remain protected for how we use it – fishing, swimming, boating, and more, and for more on partner organizations like Trout Unlimited and NJ Highlands Coalition protecting other rivers in northwestern NJ.