Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Jersey Highlands Water Protection

By Lisa Quaglino

One environmental concern that never seems to disappear is the issue of clean water. Water is involved with nearly all of our everyday activities, even when we don’t realize it. The issue of water has become especially relevant in Northern New Jersey. The clean water supply from the New Jersey Highlands has been supplying multiple businesses in the area, such as Budweiser, without receiving much in return.

With all of these businesses, and the use of the Highlands streams by residents themselves, there have been times when the water supply has been overused, and its resources stressed. Up until around the mid 2000’s, few concerns had been raised about the state of the Highlands water supply.

Finally, in 2005, ideas for a master plan where developed in hopes of finding a way to use the Highlands water supply to its fullest potential, while keeping the water clean and at a healthy level.

By 2008, the New Jersey Highlands Council set the Regional Master Plan in place, and began to take input from both the local community and businesses in order to make sure everyone’s needs were met while also ensuring the safety of the water sources.

The Highlands water supply is known to be of higher quality than other water supplies in the state, which is why so many businesses have depended on it in order to successfully make and sell their products. This is also the reason why so much is being done today in order to preserve the water and protect its quality.

There is much to be learned from the example set by the New Jersey Highlands Council and their efforts to protect the regional water supply. Today, they are taking in consideration all possible threats to the water, like an increase in population, or dry seasons, and making sure that these threats do not permanently damage the Highlands water supply.

Unlike many other environmental issues, the water in the Highlands was protected before any serious damage could be done, and long before the damage became irreversible. Consideration is being given to tax water users as a way to fund the protection of the water.

Of course, there is always room for improvement, specifically in areas of conservation. While some local businesses in the area have taken the initiative to decrease the amount of water they use yearly, some have made farther strides than others. Once these businesses can find a way to decrease the amount of water needed to produce their products, it is possible that the Highlands Council can turn its attention to other areas of  the environment.

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