Publication Center


2008 Annual Report

January 24, 2009
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The 21st century has been marked by issues of national security, global warming and sea level rise, fuel costs, home mortgage industry collapse, and world financial market uncertainties. These are just a few of the realities facing the population. Many of the stresses of population and industrialization can be generally assessed in terms of use impairments which have measurable social and economic effects. Although not often in the headlines because it is considered less than sensational news, water quality improvements, especially in this tri-state region, have been a success story.

Returning to the water is a national focus. The Clean Water Act, established in 1972, set a national goal to restore and maintain the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of the waters of the United States. This year is the 72nd anniversary of the Interstate Environmental Commission (IEC) — an agency with a mandate to protect this Tri-State Region’s waters long before the creation of state and national environmental entities, and before national standards were established.

The Commission is both delighted and gratified to report the great improvements in water quality throughout the Region where the majority of the waters are fishable and swimmable. However, the region still faces problems — some of which are local, and some more far-reaching. Hypoxia, sediment contamination, pathogens, habitat loss, combined sewer overflows (CSOs), municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s), atmospheric deposition, invasive species, global warming, impacts on living marine resources, land use issues and public education have all been identified as priority areas of concern. All of these issues have socio-economic impacts throughout the Region.

Following the recommendation of the Tri-State Treaty Commission, the Tri-State Compact establishing the District and the Commission was enacted in 1936, with the Consent of Congress. The Commission has an overall responsibility of protecting the environment by viewing the District from a regional, impartial and unbiased perspective. Whereas each state deals with issues within its own borders, the Commission can and does cross state lines. The Commission strives for interstate cooperation and coordination and to harmonize water quality standards, regulations and requirements throughout its District. The Commission’s mandate is as important today as it was in the 1930s.

The mandates of the Commission are governed by the Tri-State Compact, Statutes, and the IEC’s Water Quality Regulations. In addition to its mandates in water pollution, the capabilities and benefits of the Commission as a regional agency were also recognized when the IEC’s interstate air pollution program began in 1962, and were further reinforced in 1970 when the Commission was designated as the coordinating and planning agency for the New Jersey-New York-Connecticut Air Quality Control Region. As the Commission plans to meet its mandates and goals for the future, IEC must adapt to a variety of conditions, but must also rely on good science and sound engineering as an integral part of the decision-making process. The Metropolitan Area contains a world class harbor that is able to support a wide spectrum of commercial and recreational industries and activities