Baysave’s business plan is available to the public. If anyone cares to give feedback, I would appreciate it.
Renewed threats by NJDEP while waiting for infrastructure updates at Money Island NJ
In the months after Superstorm Sandy many of the government agencies, environmental groups and local citizens pulled together here at the NJ bayshore. We attended countless planning meetings discussing priorities and a game plan toward environmental and financial sustainability. For us here in Money Island that meant changing our game plan to aquaculture.
We never anticipated the difficulties that would follow: insurance fraud, denial of all government aid, and years of delays. Yet it seemed that all the stakeholders were willing to keep working to do what it takes to rebuild our community recognizing the reality of sea level rise and increased flooding. All o the stakeholders were working together except one: certain individuals in the NJDEP. Most NJDEP officers supported our recovery plans but a few emerged as antagonists.
Today I received another nasty-gram from one of the antagonists. I thought that we had reached an agreement last summer when I met with these officials. I agreed to a short list of immediate corrections and they agreed to be patient until the Cumberland County infrastructure upgrade plans were complete. Apparently not so. Today’s message threatens a number of more immediate actions with response times of 20 to 35 days. Last night we heard an update that the water and sewer project is moving forward, but we are still talking about years until resolution, not days.
This was the email I received from NJDEP today:
Dear Mr. Novak:
Attached is an Administrative Order (AO) issued by the Department for violations at properties owned by Baysave A NJ Nonprofit Corporation, including at Money Island Marina. A hard copy is being mailed to you as Baysave’s registered agent as well as to Baysave’s bankruptcy counsel.
Please read the attached document carefully. Contained within the enclosed document are instructions for requesting an Administrative Hearing. Each statute cited has different timeframes within which the hearing request must be received by the Department and failure to request a hearing per the instructions will result in loss of your right to a hearing for violations pertaining to that statute. The Department does not have the authority to extend those statutory timeframes. Specifically, the timeframes are as follows:
- For violations cited pursuant to N.J.S.A. 58:12A-10(d) and N.J.A.C. 7:10-3.5 et seq., as described in paragraphs 13, 15, and 30e of the attached AO, a request for a hearing must be received within thirty-five (35) days.
- For violations cited Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 58:10A-10d(2) and N.J.A.C. 7:14-8.4 et seq., as described in paragraphs 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, and 30a through 30d of the attached AO, a request for a hearing must be received within twenty (20) days.
- For violations cited Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 26:2C-1 et seq. and N.J.A.C. 7:27-8.3(b), as described by paragraphs 16 and 30f of the attached AO, a request for a hearing must be received within twenty (20) days.
- For violations cited Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 52:14B-1 et seq., N.J.S.A. 13:19-18(b), N.J.S.A. 13:9A-9(d), and N.J.S.A. 12:5-6(e), as described by paragraphs 19, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 30g through 30l of the attached AO, a request for a hearing must be received within thirty-five (35) days.
Please reply to this e-mail so that I know that you received the document. If you have any questions concerning the enclosed AO, you may contact Ginger Benckert of my staff at (609) 614-3655 or at email@example.com.
Very truly yours,
Mary Simpson, Chief
Southern Bureau of Water Compliance and Enforcement
I always try to be positive and emphasize that we should all be working together to solve these environmental challenges. I also often remind government people that I came into management of this specific situation after Sandy and serve as a volunteer, not a paid employee, in contrast to the DEP officers. My response today:
I received your email addressed to Baysave Corporation about violations at Money Island. Yes, addressing these issues remains our major challenge and the focus of our mission toward environmental sustainability.
As you heard in our last meeting, Baysave accepted the challenge of resolving decades of missteps by various public and private stakeholders at Money Island that became evident by the early 2000s. The total amount of property-based liabilities exceed the land value at Money Island by a factor of 10:1 so a private stakeholder solution is simply not possible. I’m sure you know that neither Baysave nor I created any of these problems but that we have worked very hard to resolve them for many years. In 2004 I proposed a public/private partnership to address the infrastructure issues at Money Island and in 2010 Baysave was formed as the lead organization for environmental sustainability.
Baysave’s trustees remain fully committed to resolving these issues as soon as humanly possible. We have raised tens of thousands of dollars since Sandy to address these and many other specific issues of concern. A large portion of our fundraising is for the purpose of paying for various state permits, applications and inspections. We have made significant progress so far toward environmental sustainability in the face of overwhelming challenges. Even since we met last summer, I have worked with various agencies and, as far as I can see, have taken every known path towards resolution of these overwhelming infrastructure issues.
I remain committed to resolving the remaining issues as soon as humanly possible. I hope you recall that when we met last I agreed to and followed through with all of the specific action steps you requested.
As far as the wastewater issues, various public officials have directed me to refer these questions to Mayor Campbell who has taken the lead on this issue. He has the authority to speak for all of Money Island stakeholders who share these same concerns. We are currently revising our wastewater handling plan and will continue to work with all authorities until the issue is resolved.
I am copying Mayor Campbell, State Senator Van Drew and Representative LoBiondo who lead the movement toward environmental sustainability here. We must continue to rely on the combination of public and private efforts to reach the end goal of a clean, sustainable and fully compliant working waterfront community at Money Island.
I also tried to reach Ginger Benkert as you suggested for further information, but the telephone number listed in your email appears to be an error.
We look forward to working with your department to resolve these concerns.
Tony Novak, CPA, MBA, MT
I continue to believe that sanity will eventually prevail in this battle and that we will reach a solution that works for all stakeholders. Baysave and the other NJ bayfront communities have a solid plan for recovery, compliance and sustainability. We have the technology and the drive to transform into a clean water-based economy. Many other aquaculture communities up and down the east coast of the U.S. have already done it and serve as our models. All it takes is time and money.
As far as I know, the EPA has apparently not commented on the authenticity of this budget proposal published in several newspapers. Senator Booker communicated some degree of doubt in a tweet yesterday. The line items most likely to affect us in the Delaware Bay region of New Jersey are highlighted. In most cases that are relevant to us, the EPA funds programs administered by the State of New Jersey so it is difficult to forecast exactly what the impact will be.
The program administrators I communicated with this week, mostly through social media, are seriously concerned.
|SF Bay (EPA)||4.8||0||-100%|
|Great Lakes restoration (EPA)||300||10||-97%|
|Endocrine disruptors (EPA)||7.5||0.445||-94%|
|Enviro education (EPA)||8.7||0.555||-94%|
|Chesapeake Bay (EPA)||73||5||-93%|
|Puget Sound (EPA)||28||2||-93%|
|US Mexico border (EPA)||3||0.275||-91%|
|Gulf of Mexico (EPA)||4.5||1||-78%|
|Environmental justice (EPA)||6.7||1.5||-78%|
|Small minority business assistance (EPA)||1.7||0.4||-76%|
|Climate protection (EPA)||95||29||-69%|
|Research – air climate energy (EPA)||92||46||-50%|
|Sustainable and Healthy Communities (EPA)||140||76||-46%|
|Safe & sustainable water resources (EPA)||107||70||-35%|
|Research – chem safety & sustainability (EPA)||89||62||-30%|
|Lead RRP (EPA)||13.3||9.4||-29%|
|Leaking underground storage tanks (EPA)||11.3||8||-29%|
|Right to Know (TRI) (EPA)||13.9||10.7||-23%|
|Tribal capacity building (EPA)||14.4||11.8||-18%|
|Marine Pollution (EPA)||10.1||8.6||-15%|
|Compliance monitoring (EPA)||101||88||-13%|
|Civil Enforcement (EPA)||171||153||-11%|
|Diesel emissions reduction act (state grants)||50||0||-100%|
|Multipurpose grants (state grants)||21||0||-100%|
|Targeted airsheds (state grants)||20||0||-100%|
|US-Mexico border targeted watershed (state grants)||10||0||-100%|
|Beach water quality testing (state grants)||9.5||0||-100%|
|Radon (state grants)||8||0||-100%|
|Brownfields (state grants)||48||33||-31%|
|Tribes – air quality management (state grants)||12.9||8.9||-31%|
|Pesticides implementation (state grants)||12.7||8.8||-31%|
|Toxic substances compliance (state grants)||4.9||3.4||-31%|
|Wetlands (state grants)||14.7||10.2||-31%|
|Underground injection (state grants)||10.5||7.3||-30%|
|Drinking water grants (state grants)||102||71||-30%|
|Nonpoint source pollution (state grants)||165||115||-30%|
|Air quality grants (state grants)||228||159||-30%|
|Water pollution control (state grants)||230||161||-30%|
|Lead (state grants)||14||9.8||-30%|
|Tribal general assistance program (state grants)||65||46||-29%|
Most of the infrastructure projects at the Money Island Marina community are developed and managed locally but funded through a combination of private and public funds. The most common funding formula is that we fund 100% of a project in advance and then the state uses federal funding to reimburse 75% of the approved costs. Since not all costs are refundable, it usually works out to something like a 50/50 split. We work with governments and other partners whenever possible to reach a level of cooperation that allows important projects to move forward.
While nothing is certain yet, this blog post is simply meant to build a list of the possible consequences of the Republican’s new budget slashing of environmental programs funded directly or indirectly through the EPA that would change Money Island New Jersey operating plan for 2017 and beyond:
- shoreline stabilization projects
- oyster reef recovery research
- dune building research
- channel dredging*
- roadway stabilization*
- waste water handling system
- boat pump out station
- boat ramp extension
- transient vessel dockage
- aquaculture education program
- waterfront development permits for aquaculture
- underground storage tank removal
- oyster safety monitoring program*
- overharvesting enforcement*
* These are 100% government controlled and funded, partially through EPA funds paid to the state.
We will continue to communicate with our partners as well as federal and state agencies to try to keep these projects on track. However, if the funding offer from federal government is withdrawn, we will likely be stalled here for an uncertain time.
Congressman Frank LoBiondo has been a strong supporter of the Delaware Bay region, our environment and our businesses. This photo was taken on his recent visit to Money Island in August 2016 where he spoke about the difficulty in promoting our environmental interests in Washington. His efforts are largely responsible for the EPA-funded restoration projects here.
This week NJ.com recognizes LoBiondo as one of only a few Republican leaders nationwide willing to stand up to the to repeal environmental restrictions on the coal industry.
Earlier in 2016 the Congressmen met with me and a group of other concerned residents still fighting to settle Sandy insurance claims years after FEMA fraud admissions.
I am grateful for Congressman LoBiondo’s efforts and feel blessed to have him represent us in Washington DC.
News reports say that fishermen had a role in convincing Republicans in Washington to abandon HR 621 that would have led to the sale of 3.3 million acres to oil and gas drillers.
I am withdrawing HR 621. I'm a proud gun owner, hunter and love our public lands. The bill would have disposed of small parcels of lands Pres. Clinton identified as serving no public purpose but groups I support and care about fear it sends the wrong message. The bill was originally introduced several years ago. I look forward to working with you. I hear you and HR 621 dies tomorrow. #keepitpublic #tbt
In May 2015 , the U.S. federal government’s Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Office introduced the Stream Protection Rule that addresses the balance of interests between clean water and the needs of the coal industry. The indication was that this was based on new scientific information about the damaging effects of coal dust in water systems. I have not reviewed the underlying science (and the science is not the focus of this article) but note that it was considered later in public comments. The intent of the rule was to limit effluents coming from runoff from coal mining.
The Delaware River watershed and the Delaware Bay region was only peripherally affected by the legislation compared to other parts of the country. As a result, the local environmental organizations that work with were only minimally involved in the legislative process. Some local people are concerned that coal runoff has adversely affected sturgeon that were once abundant in the Delaware River and bay. The federal rule making agency found no basis for that concern and did not consider the risk in this rulemaking process.
More than 18 months of public meetings, hearing and collection of public comments followed the introduction of this rule. As expected, there was both support and opposition. In general, the coal industry wants no additional regulation while environmentalists want rules to ensure clean water. 95,000 public comments on the rule were collected during this period. The federal rule making process moved forward as expected in the usual fashion by considering all of this massive public input. The discussion over extensive public comments are listed in the federal register and can be viewed at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/12/20/2016-29958/stream-protection-rule.
After about 18 months of public vetting, the Stream Protection Rule became law in December 2016 as a modest step in preserving the quality of our water system.
Today, February 1, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.J.Res.38 – “Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of the Interior known as the Stream Protection Rule”. In a single vote, these elected officials set aside all the work that had balanced the interests of industry and the environment and simply bullied their forced agenda on the affected citizens.
I am saddened to witness yet another defeat for the democratic process and a step back for our Delaware water system.