June 10,2003 NJDEP Summary of Water Issues In Sparta and Vernon (http://www.state.nj.us/dca/osg/docs/spartavernonwater061003.pdf):
The NJDEP Division of Watershed Management is presently reviewing the amended submission for the Vernon Town Center / Mountain Creek area.
The township proposes to collect wastewater from the town center and send that wastewater via pipeline to the SCMUA Upper Wallkill Sewage Treatment Plant, where it is to be treated at the facility and then piped back to Vernon for groundwater discharge.
The amendment will require a 266,000 gallon per day (GPD) expansion of the Upper Wallkill STP and a NJPDES Discharge to Groundwater permit for the treated effluent in Vernon Township, in addition to other NJDEP permits needed for the construction of the infrastructure.
At the time the wastewater management plan (WMP) amendment application was filed, the DEP determined that a consumptive/depletive water use analysis was not required because the project would not generate major irrigation uses and would return treated wastewater to the watershed via a discharge to groundwater.
One issue that will require additional investigation is that the original sewer service area designation was based on a build-out analysis under the Township's zoning in place at the time. The current amendment for the Vernon Town Center results in a higher build-out density than the original sewer service area plan.
Therefore the NJDEP will require that a new build-out analysis must be conducted to determine the accuracy of the projected wastewater flow to be generated by the center. In addition, due to the higher density now proposed, additional environmental analysis will be also required. Components of that analysis include a non-point source pollution analysis, a riparian corridor protection plan and a threatened and endangered species habitat analysis.
...although the Upper Wallkill STP is operating at just about half of its permitted capacity, the remaining allocations are tied up by participating municipalities. This has caused Vernon to seek to expand the facility, despite substantial available capacity.
Therefore, the NJDEP is asking Vernon Township and SCMUA for a legal analysis of the potential to have the existing unused capacity at the plant reallocated to accommodate the Vernon Town Center. An investigation of environmentally and economically feasible alternatives to the Township's currently preferred alternative to upgrade the treatment capacity at the Wallkill STP is needed. If other alternatives are found to be environmentally and economically feasible, the Department may require the use of these alternatives, rather than construct the proposed plant upgrade.
Vernon Township also gets its water from limestone and glacial sand and gravel. The Township had previously agreed to institute a ground-water monitoring program when they were granted the Vernon sewer interceptor allocation by the NJDEP, but they have not yet complied with this requirement.
The NJDEP believes that there is a potential for more supplies for Vernon, however, but more work is needed to develop a realistic water budget for the Township.
A key concern of the NJDEP that affects Vernon Township is the issue intrabasin transfer. At present, over 300,000 gallons of water per day are removed out of the Black Creek Basin and diverted downstream within the Wallkill Basin to Hamburg.The NJDEP has been involved in discussions and has encouraged water users to establish a return line to Vernon, to allow a return of water to the basin for reuse. The greatest potential for this idea relates to the use of water for snowmaking, however the issues related to the use of returned water during the summer have not been resolved.
This usage of water is depletive to the Black Creek downstream, even though the waters eventually are returned to the greater Hudson Basin as the Wallkill flows north to New York.
One potential involves the use of the returned water for golf course watering at Great Gorge.
Another issue of concern to the NJDEP relative to Vernon is that their current system of public water supply is actually a collection of disaggregated water systems. This condition makes it difficult to work out solutions to water supply problems in the Township due to the competing concerns of the different purveyors.
The NJDEP is very concerned about the greater issue of consumptive use losses in all these basins and will be looking at with the current allocation requests in comparison to the water-budget analyses the New Jersey Geological Survey is conducting statewide this year.
The DEP has proposed specific additions to the proposed Plan Implementation Agendas (PIA) for both Sparta and Vernon to ensure that these communities perform the analysis needed to properly balance their desire for growth and the protection of environmental resources and natural systems.