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New Report Seeks to Address Wastewater Challenges

The MWA recently released its "Septic System Risk Assessment & Design Alternatives Report," produced by E&LP to help local officials and residents address a growing challenge facing our watershed. 


A key finding is "Conventional septic systems have proven to become environmental hazards if not designed, installed or maintained properly." The report goes on to note, "though generally safe for humans, the conventional septic system can contribute to water pollution even if the system is working properly."


A majority of the properties within the Musconetcong Watershed are managed by conventional septic systems rather than sewers and wastewater treatment plants. We've learned from research and heard from participants in our River Talks and Watershed Allies Training sessions that the cost to the homeowner to fix a septic system prior to selling their house can range from $40,000 to over $80,000.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 168,000 viral illnesses and 34,000 bacterial illnesses occur each year as a result of consumption of drinking water from systems that rely on improperly treated ground water.


This report investigated existing conditions throughout the Musconetcong Watershed and provided design options for consideration. Finding options, including distributed water infrastructure that can be planned, installed and maintained in an efficient, cost-effective and equitable manner is a prime goal.


The Musconetcong River is widely considered to be a high-quality stream in comparison to most others in New Jersey. However, due to urbanization within the watershed, there are indications that the water quality may be declining. Some of the watershed's surfacer waters are in violation of NJDEP permits due to nonpoint source pollution which includes runoff from farms, suburban development and malfunctioning septic systems.


Building upon the MWA's water quality monitoring, the report noted, "To avoid further surface water pollution from septic systems, advance wastewater treatments are recommended in areas that are in close proximity to waterways with exceptional value. Advanced treatment systems can remove greater nutrient loads than conventional systems, which reduces the risk of potential contamination of nearby ecological features."


The MWA is interested in working with homeowners and municipalities to explore future infrastructure or regulatory improvements to safeguard the watershed's natural resources. If you want to be involved, please let us know!


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