Jump to main content.


Rockaway River Area Aquifer System ( Unconsolidated Quaternary ) Rockaway River Area Aquifer System ( Unconsolidated Quaternary )

Federal Register Notice

Volume 49, No. 16, Page 2946
Tuesday, January 24, 1984
Sole Source Aquifer Determination for the
Unconsolidated Quaternary Aquifer,
in the Rockaway River Area, New Jersey

  • AGENCY
  • ACTION
  • SUMMARY
  • SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION

    AGENCY

    Environmental Protection Agency

    ACTION

    Notice.

    SUMMARY

    Notice is hereby given that, pursuant to section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that the Unconsolidated Quaternary Aquifer in the Rockaway River Basin is the sole or principal source of drinking water for the Rockaway River Basin Area, and that the aquifer, if contaminated, would create a significant hazard to public health. As a result of this action, all Federal financially assisted projects constructed in the Rockaway River Basin Area will be subject to EPA review to ensure that these projects are designed and constructed without a significant hazard to public health.

    ADDRESS: The data on which these findings are based is available to the public and may be inspected during normal business hours at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region II, Water Supply Branch, Room 824, 26 Federal Plaza, New York, New York 10278.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Damian J. Duda, Water Supply Branch, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region II at (212) 264-1800.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION

    Notice is hereby given that pursuant to section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C., 300f, 300h-3(e), Pub. L. 93-523), the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that the Unconsolidated Quaternary Aquifer of the Rockaway River Basin Area is the sole or principal source of drinking water for the Town of Boonton, Boonton Township, Denville, Dover, Jefferson Township, Mine Hill, Mountain Lakes, Randolph Township, Rockaway Borough, Rockaway Township, Roxbury, Victory Gardens and Wharton. Pursuant to section 1424(e), Federal financially assisted projects constructed in the Rockaway River Basin Area, which is delineated by the watershed boundaries of the Rockaway River, the Black (Upper Lamington) River Basin in Roxbury Township and Lake Arrowhead in Denville and Mountain Lakes, will subject to EPA review.

    I. Background

    Section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water 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, ifcontaminated, 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 November 30, 1979, EPA received a petition from the Upper Rockaway River Watershed Association requesting that EPA designate the Quaternary Wisconsin stratified drift deposits as a sole source aquifer. In response to this petition, EPA published a notice in the Federal Register on September 11, 1980 (45 FR 60010) announcing a public comment period and setting a public hearing date. A public hearing was conducted on October 15, 1980, and the public was requested to submit comments on the petition until November 14, 1980.

    II. Basis for the Determination

    Among the factors to be considered by the Administrator in con-nection with the designating an area under section 1424(e) are: (1) whether the Uncon-solidated Quaternary Aquifer is the area's sole or principal source of drinking water and (2) whether contamination of the aquifer would create a significant hazard to public health.

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

    1. The Quaternary deposits represent an aquifer which currently serves as the "sole source" of drinking water for approximately 90,000 residents.

    2. There are no existing alternative drinking water sources or combination of sources, which would provide fifty percent or more of the drinking water to the designated area, nor is there any reasonable available alternative future source capable of supplying the drinking water demands of the Rockaway River Basin Area.

    3. The Unconsolidated Quaternary Aquifer is glacial in origin and is composed of unconsoli-dated sand and gravel deposits.

    As a result of its highly permeable soil characteristics, the Unconsolidated Quaternary Aquifer is susceptible to contamination through its recharge zone from a number of sources, including, but not limited to, chemical spills, highway runoff, septic tanks, leaking storage tanks, and leaching from open dumps. There is current evidence of localized contamination of the aquifer from gasoline spills, individual disposal systems, leaking fuel tanks, and waste water treatment systems. Since ground water contamination can be difficult or impossible to reverse, and since this aquifer is relied on for drinking water purposes by the general population, contamination of the aquifer would pose a significant hazard to public health.

    III. Description of the Unconsolidated Quaternary Aquifer Systems and its Recharge Zone

    The Unconsolidated Quaternary Aquifer underlies thirteen municipalities in Morris County, in the Rockaway River Basin Area. The municipalities are the Town of Boonton, Boonton Township, Denville, Dover, Jefferson Township, Mine Hill, Mountain Lakes, Randolph Township, Rockaway Borough, Rockaway Township, Roxbury, Victory Gardens and Wharton. The area in which Federal financially assisted projects will be subject to review is the area which includes the Unconsolidated Quaternary Aquifer's (1) recharge zone-delineated by the floodplain areas of the Rockaway River Basin and a portion of the Black (Upper Lamington) River Basin and (2) streamflow source zone-the watershed boundaries of the Rockaway River Basin, a portion of the Black (Upper Lamington) River Basin and Lake Arrowhead.

    IV. Information Utilized in Determination

    The information utilized in this determination includes the petition, written and verbal comments submitted by the public, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and a study on the available water supply in the Rockaway Area (Tetra-Tech., 1979).

    The above data is available to the public and may be inspected during normal business hours at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region II, Water Supply Branch, Room 824, 26 Federal Plaza, New York, New York 10278.

    V. Project Review

    EPA Region II is working with the Federal agencies that may in the future provide financial assistance projects in the area of concern. Interagency procedures have been developed in which EPA will be notified of proposed commitments by Federal agencies for projects which could contaminate the Unconsolidated Aquifer. EPA will evaluate such projects and, where necessary, conduct an in-depth review, including soliciting public comment where appropriate. Should the Administrator determine that a project may contaminate the aquifer through its recharge zone so as to create a significant hazard to public health, no commitment for Federal financial assistance may be entered into. However, a commitment for Federal financial assistance may, if authorized under another provision of lay, be entered into to plan or design the project to assure that it will not so contaminate the aquifer.

    Although the project review process cannot be delegated, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will rely to the maximum extent possible on any existing or future State and local control mechanisms in protecting the ground water quality of the Unconsolidated Quaternary Aquifer.

    Included in the review of any Federal financially assisted project will be coordination with the State and local agencies. Their comments will be given full consideration and the Federal review process will attempt to complement and support State and local ground water protection mechanisms.

    VI. Summary and Discussion of Public Comments

    Most of the comments received from Federal, State and local government agencies and from the public were strongly in favor of designation. Only two commenters expressed any reservations regarding the designation.

    Two commenters felt that EPA currently has suf-ficient ground water protection mechanisms, which, together with State and local mechanisms, render a sole source designation unnecessary. Each felt that a municipality should have the responsibility of protecting its own water resource. Although a number of ground water protection measures are available at the Federal, State and local level, none of these, either individually or collectively, permit EPA to act as directly and comprehensively as would a sole source designation in the review and approval of Federal financially assisted projects. In addition, EPA feels that the sole source project review process will foster integration rather than duplication of environmental review efforts.

    One other commenter, although generally in favor of designation had some recommendations in the existing petition. Specifically the two recommendations are (1) to extend the recharge area and (2) to expand any project review to include both federally assisted and non-federally assisted projects mainly public and semi-public. EPA has evaluated the recharge suggestion and determined the extent of the recharge area for project review. At present, only Federal financially assisted projects can come under sole source review. EPA does not have the legal means to review any non-federally funded project without amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act. Federal assistance will only be withheld in those instances where it is determined that a proposed project may contaminate the aquifer so as to create a significant hazard to public health and no acceptable remedial measures are available to prevent the potential hazard.

    VII. Economic and Regulatory Impact

    Pursuant to the provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 605(b), I hereby certify that the attached rule will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. For purposes of this Certification the "small entity" shall have the same meaning as given in Section 601 of the RFA. This action is only applicable to the Rockaway River Basin Area. The only affected entities will be those area-based business, organizations or governmental jurisdictions that request Federal financial assistance for projects which have the potential for contaminating the aquifer so as to create a significant hazard to public health. EPA does not expect to be reviewing small isolated commitments of financial assistance on an individual basis, unless a cumulative impact on the aquifer is anticipated; accordingly, the number of affected small entities will be minimal.

    For those small entities which are subject to review, the impact of today's action will not be significant. Most projects subject to this review will be preceded by a ground water impact assessment required pursuant to other Federal laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, as amended (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321, et seq. Integration of those related review procedures with Sole Source Aquifer review will allow EPA and other Federal agencies to avoid delay or duplication of effort in approving financial assistance, thus minimizing any adverse effect onthose small entities which are affected. Finally today's action does not prevent grants of Federal financial assistance which may be available to any affected small entity in order to pay for the redesign of the project to assure protection of the aquifer.

    Under Executive Order 12291, EPA must judge whether a regulation is "major" and therefore, subject to the requirement of a Regulatory Impact Analysis. This regulation is not major because it will not have an annual effect of $100 million or more on the economy, will not cause any major increase in costs of prices, and will not have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of United States enterprises to compete in domestic or export markets. Today's action only affects the Rockaway River Basin Area. It provides an additional review of ground water protection measures, incorporating, State and local measures whenever possible, for only those projects which request Federal financial assistance. This regulation was submitted to the office of Management and Budget for review under EP 12291.

    Dated: January 12, 1983.
    William D. Ruckelshaus, Administrator

    [FR Doc. 841888 Filed 1/23/84; 8:45 am]
    BILLING CODE 656050M

    For information on this page, contact: Rinaldo.Lawrence@epamail.epa.gov

  • LocalNavigation


    Jump to main content.