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Buried Valley Aquifer System Buried Valley Aquifer System

Federal Register Notice

Volume 45, No. 91, Page 30537
Thursday, May 8, 1980
Sole Source Aquifer Determination
Aquifers Underlying Western Essex and Southeastern Morris Counties, New Jersey


Environmental Protection Agency


Notice is hereby given that pursuant to Section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300f, 300h3(e): 88 Stat. 1660 et seq., P.L. 93523 of) the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency has determined that the buried valley and bedrock aquifer system underlying the Central Basin of the Passaic River in western Essex and southeastern Morris Counties, New Jersey, is the principal source of drinking water for these counties and that, if the aquifer system were contaminated, it would create a significant hazard to public health.


I. Background

The Safe Drinking Water Act was enacted on December 10, 1974, Section 1424(e) of the Act states:

If the Administrator determines, on his own initiative or upon petition, that an area has an aquifer which is the sole or principal drinking water source for the area and which, if contaminated, would create a significant hazard to public health, he shall publish a notice of the determination in the Federal Register. After the publication of any such notice, no commitment for Federal financial assistance (through a grant, contract, loan guarantee, or otherwise) may be entered into for any project which the Administrator determines may contaminate such aquifer through a recharge zone so as to create a significant hazard to public health, but a commitment for Federal financial assistance may, if authorized under another provision of law, be entered into to plan or design the project to assure that it will not so contaminate the aquifer.

On January 15, 1979 the City of East Orange, NJ and Passaic River Coalition, Basking Ridge, NJ petitioned the Administrator to designate the aquifer system underlying western Essex and southeastern Morris Counties, New Jersey, as a Sole Source Aquifer under the provisions of the Act. A notice of receipt of this petition, together with a request for comments was published in the Federal Register March 29, 1979, 44 FR 18732. In response to the Notice and request for comments, written comments were received from both the public and private sectors. On May 23, 1979, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a public hearing in Rossland, N.J. to hear the views of persons interested in the Buried Valley System issue.

II. Basis for the Determination

On the basis of the information which is available to this Agency the Administrator has made the following findings, which are the basis for the determination noted above:

(1) The Buried Valley Aquifer System is the sole or principal source of drinking water for approximately 600,000 people in western Essex and southeastern Morris Counties, New Jersey. In 1978, the system supplied approximately 42 million Gallons per Day (MGD) water. Currentwater supply treatment practice for public supplies is generally limited to disinfection for drinking purposes; with some plants capable of manganese removal. There is no alternative source of drinking water supply which could economically replace this aquifer system if it were contaminated.

(2) The Buried Valley Aquifer System is vulnerable to contamination through its recharge zone, particularly from septic tanks and, to a lesser extent, from leaching of discharges to streams and rivers in the recharge and streamflow source zones. Since ground water contamination can be difficult or impossible to reverse, and because this aquifer is relied upon for drinking purposes by many people, contamination of the aquifer would pose a significant hazard to public health.

Section 1424(e) of the Act requires that a Federal agency may not commit funds to a project which may contaminate the aquifer system through a recharge or streamflow source zone so as to create a significant hazard to the public health. The recharge zone is that area through which water enters into the aquifer system.

III. Project Review

The area in which projects may be review is the area encompassed by (1) The boundary of thee Buried Valley Aquifer System, and (2) its streamflow source zones.

The Buried Valley System is the principal source of drinking water in southeastern Morris and western Essex Counties, New Jersey. The surface boundary of the aquifer's recharge zone is identical with the boundary of the aquifer.

The recharge zone is defined by the outside boundary of the following municipalities: On the south-Bernards Township and Warren Township, on the east-Berkeley Heights, New Providence, Summit Millburn, Livingston Township, Rossland, Essex Falls, Caldwell, West Caldwell, and North Caldwell, on the north-Fairfield, and Montville, on the west-Parsippany-Troy Hills, Morris Township and Harding Township. Included within these perimeter communities are also the following: Passaic Township, Chatham, Chatham Township, Madison, Florham Park, Mor-ristown, Hanover, East Hanover and Morris Plains.

The streamflow source zone of the aquifer system lies within the boundaries of the Rockaway River Sub-Basin, which, in turn, is part of the Passaic River Basin. This zone includes those portions of the sub-basin which ultimately drain to the recharge zone. This area encompasses all or part of the following municipalities: Bernardsville, Boonton Town, Boonton Township, Denveille, Dover, Jefferson, Kinnelon, Lincoln Park, Mendham Borough, Mendham Township, Mine Hill, Mountain Lakes, Mount Arlington, Randolph, Rockaway Borough, Rockaway Township, Roxbury Sparta, Victory Gardens and Wharton.

IV. Information Utilized in the Determination

The information utilized in this determination includes: The petition, written and verbal comments submitted by the public, a detailed map of the area and independent analyses by EPA. All this information is available to the public and may be inspected during normal business hours at the office of the Environmental Protection Agency, Region II, Water Supply Branch, 26 Federal Plaza, Room 24-130, New York, N.Y. 10007.

A copy of the above documentation is also available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Waterside Mall, Public Information and Reference Unit, Room 2922, 401 M Street SW., Washington, D.C. 20460.

EPA proposed national regulations for implementing Section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act on September 29, 1977, 42 FR 51574. The proposed regulations contain procedures for review of Federal financially assisted projects which may contaminate aquifer systems designated as "sole or principal source" aquifers through the recharge zone so as to create a significant hazard to public health. Until their final promulgation, these regulations will be used as interim guidance for implementing a sole source program under Section 1424(e). Questions and comments concerning the possible effect of the regulations on federally assisted projects in the Buried Valley Aquifer System area should be directed to Region II, Environmental Protection Agency, Attn: Harry F. Smith, Jr., P.E., Chief, Water Supply Branch, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 26 Federal Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10007.

EPA, Region II, is working with the Federal agencies which intend, or may intend to fund projects in the area of concern to develop procedures for notifying EPA projects in the area which might contaminate the aquifer. EPA will evaluate such projects and, where necessary, will conduct an in-depth review, including soliciting public comments where appropriate. More stringent review criteria will be applied to those projects that have a greater potential for contaminating the aquifer, such as those located in the recharge zone.

Although the project review process cannot be delegated, the Regional Administrator in Region II will rely to the maximum extent possible upon and existing or future State and local control mechanisms in protecting the southeastern Morris and western Essex Counties, New Jersey. Included in the review of any Federal financially assisted project will be coordination with the State and local agencies. Their determinations will be given full consideration and the Federal review process will function so as to complement and support State and local protection programs.

Dated: May 2, 1980.
Douglas M. Costello, Administrator.

[FR Doc. 8014263 Filed 5/7/80; 8:45 am]


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