Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Five years after mandate, still no soil compaction standard


One of the questions examined on Monday at a special joint summer session of the NJ Senate and Assembly environment committees in Lavallette was what is holding up the implementation of soil compaction standards that were mandated in legislation enacted
five years ago.

Why is soil compaction a problem? Here's how Senate committee chairman Bob Smith (D) describes soil compaction:

"“When a bulldozer drives over dirt (at a construction site), the soil becomes compacted to the point that it’s just as bad as if you put in a concrete surface. The question is, when you do construction, should you restore soil so that it’s permeable again so that water can go through the soil and go back to the groundwater?”

Why was a meeting held on the shoreline of the Barnegat Bay such an appropriate place to discuss it? 

Many years of rapid residential and commercial development in formerly rural Ocean County brought with it miles of newly paved roads and parking lots and compacted soil beneath homeowners' lawns. During rainstorms, water that no longer is absorbed into the soil runs off and enters storm sewers, creeks and rivers that ultimately transport it (and the lawn fertilizers, pesticides, and street oil that it carries) to Barnegat Bay.

For years, scientists at Rutgers University have been monitoring the environmentally devastating results the pollution has inflicted on the Bay, a much loved fishing and boating destination, and have been calling for measures to stem the runoff.

The state legislature and Gov. Chris Christie responded five years ago with two laws. The first limited the amount of nitrogen in lawn fertilizer products sold in the state. The second directed the state Department of Agriculture to develop standards for soil compaction that developers and landscapers would be required to meet on new projects.

The fertilizer law is in effect. The soil law, now five years old, still has not produced final compaction standards.

Video interviews with two meeting participants

Dr. Stanley Hales of the Barnegat Bay Partnership discusses the delay in the adoption of statewide soil compaction standards and why it is hurting Barnegat Bay.

Helen Henderson of the American Littoral Society provides information on a soil compaction remediation project that produced dramatic results.

Care to add to the discussion on soil compaction? Share your experience and opinions in the comment box below.

Subscribe here to view all our YouTube videos

Repost this article