Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station [Water Resources Program]

Water Quality Trading Program

What is the Passaic Water Quality Trading Project?

The non-tidal portion of the Passaic River watershed encompasses 803 square miles, with 669 square miles of the watershed in New Jersey. About 25% of New Jersey’s population (i.e. 2 million people) lives in this watershed. Three of New Jersey’s twenty watershed management areas (WMAs 3,4, and 6) overlap with the Non-Tidal Passaic River Watershed.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has proposed a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for total phosphorus in the Non-Tidal Passaic River Watershed. Excess phosphorus can cause algal blooms, reduced dissolved oxygen, and eutrophication of water bodies, which can result in fish kills and drinking water supply taste and odor problems. The proposed TMDL aims to achieve seasonal chlorophyll-a criteria in the Wanaque Reservoir and Dundee Lake through reduced phosphorus loading from point and nonpoint sources.

Most of the 22 sewage treatment plants in the Non-Tidal Passaic River Watershed will need to invest heavily on upgraded equipment to comply with the proposed phosphorus wasteload allocations. A trading project has been proposed as a cost effective alternative to meeting the phosphorus effluent standard. The project design, implementation and evaluation will extend from 2005-2008. In 2005, the EPA awarded a Targeted Watershed Grant to fund development of the trading program.

The program will focus on both point-point and point-nonpoint trading opportunities. Potential participants include sewage treatment plants and municipal stormwater sources. Watershed studies have been completed for the Passaic and a TMDL has been proposed. This project will provide a cost-effective way to implement the TMDL once it is adopted. An active coalition of point sources, the NJDEP, and a team of experts from Rutgers and Cornell Universities have been assembled to complete this endeavor.

To learn more about the Passaic Trading Framework
and the Passaic Water Quality Trading Project, click here!


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