Stormwater Management

Man fertizing a body of water.On January 5, 2004, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection adopted significant changes to the rules governing stormwater management in New Jersey. These new rules created the Municipal Stormwater Regulation Program, which requires municipalities to apply for and obtain a permit for stormwater discharges from their municipal separate storm sewer systems, or MS4s to surface water bodies like the Passaic River and its tributaries. Under the terms of the permit, every municipality in New Jersey was required to develop a plan to implement various strategies to reduce the amount of pollutants entering our storm sewer (drainage) systems.

Montclair's storm sewer system consists of approximately 2,500 roadway inlets and 42 miles of sewer pipes of varying size, which outlet to a combination of natural streams and stabilized (man-made) waterways – each passing into neighboring towns and eventually reaching the Passaic River. These streams and stabilized waterways primarily run through backyards and Municipal park land. These waterways are tributaries to the Second River (Toney’s Brook, Nishuane Brook, Wigwam Brook and Crescent Brook), and Third River (Yantacaw Brook and Pearl Brook), within the Passaic River drainage basin.


When it rains and when snow melts, some of the stormwater is absorbed into the ground as it flows over lawns and other open space. This process is known as groundwater infiltration. Stormwater also flows over roofs, streets and parking lots into a collection system of inlets, culverts and streams and ultimately the Passaic River and Newark Bay. Along the way, this “runoff” picks up contaminants such as fertilizers, soil and other sediment, pet waste, and vehicle wash-off, such as oil and toxic metals; all of which end up in the waters that we use for drinking, swimming, fishing, etc.

Stormwater runoff has been identified as the leading threat to the water quality in New Jersey. As development continues to increase, more contaminants find their way into our waterways, potentially impacting the quality of our drinking water. The NJDEP Municipal Stormwater Management Rules mandate towns to develop plans and implement certain pollution prevention measures to reduce the amount of pollutants entering our waterways.

What is Montclair Doing?

In accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:14A-25 (Municipal Stormwater Regulations), Montclair has prepared a Municipal Stormwater Management Plan, which documents the strategies the Township will implement to address stormwater-related impacts of new development. The plan addresses groundwater recharge, stormwater quantity and quality; including design and performance standards for new "major development" (projects that disturb one or more acre of land). These strategies are intended to minimize the adverse impact of stormwater runoff on water quality and the loss of groundwater recharge that provides base flow in receiving water bodies.

The plan also includes long-term operation and maintenance measures for existing and future stormwater facilities. The final component of this plan is a mitigation strategy for when a variance or exemption of the design and performance standards is sought. As part of the mitigation section of the stormwater plan, specific stormwater management measures are identified to lessen the impact of existing development.

Montclair has also developed a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, which outlines the methods the Township will employ to reduce surface water pollution from its municipal storm sewer system.

What Can You Do?
Properly dispose of trash and cigarettes:

You can help by disposing cigarette butts and other trash properly in waste receptacles. Never throw anything out of your car or boat. Do not empty ash trays in parking lots, roads, or waterways and never dump anything into a storm drain.

Minimize use of Fertilizers and Pesticides:

Fertilizers and pesticides used in lawns and gardens can be a significant source of water pollution. Over-use or misapplication of these chemicals will adversely impact water quality when they find their way into groundwater and surface water systems.

Fertilizers stimulate the growth of algae. When the algae die and decompose, this depletes the supply of oxygen for fish and other organisms, a process called “eutrophication”. Always test the pH of your soil before applying fertilizers to optimize uptake by plants and prevent leaching into groundwater.

Follow New Jersey's rules for fertilizer use or consider using non-polluting alternatives, such as compost and natural organic fertilizers. Try to apply best practices for pesticide use including: spot-treating problem areas, using biological pest control such as beneficial insects, and plant companion plants such as marigolds. For more information, visit the [Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station].

Clean up pet waste:

Bacteria and pathogens from pet and waterfowl waste can end up in ponds and streams, compromising surface water quality in the immediate area and all points downstream. Always pick up after your pet. Waste should be disposed of in the trash or toilet; never in storm drains.

Properly maintain your vehicles:

Automotive products contain toxic chemicals including motor oil, gasoline, battery acid, antifreeze, etc. Used motor oil is contaminated with heavy metals, lead and chemical additives. Antifreeze is also very toxic and can be fatal when ingested. Pets, children and wildlife are attracted to spilled antifreeze because of its sweet taste. For all of these reasons, these products must never be dumped into a storm drain. Disposal of these materials is regulated in New Jersey and they should be taken to the Essex County recycling center or to a participating service station.

You can also help by maintaining your vehicle to prevent leaks, washing your car only when necessary and when possible, use a car wash that recycles its water.

Create a Rain Garden on your property:

A rain garden for your home is designed to capture the runoff from your roof, driveway and property. This will help maintain groundwater levels and reduce runoff.

The garden should be constructed in a low area of the yard. It is bowl-shaped, rather than bermed, and planted with native plant species. There is much information available on the internet, including planting plans. For more information, start with the Rutgers NJ Agriculture Extension Station or the Native Plant Society of New Jersey.

For more information:

Stormwater Management Plan

Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan

For more information, visit the websites below:

Rutgers - New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station

Rain Garden information