Clean Ocean Action

The Treatment Train

The "chunky chowder," the raw mixture of wastewater from municipal, commercial, and industrial sources, flows to the 17 regional and local treatment plants along the NJ coast.  At these plants, wastewater begins a step-by-step process of treatment before it is released into the ocean as effluent or treated wastewater.  Treatment plants work to improve wastewater to reduce the impacts to the ocean from raw wastewater.  In a way, treatment plant managers work as "reverse" chefs to remove the ingredients from the wastewater chowder.


Primary Treatment

Secondary Treatment


Tertiary Treatment

Sludge Management


Stormwater runoff is NOT treated in coastal areas of New Jersey.  Instead, all stormwater runoff enters a separate underground infrastructure of pipes that lead directly to local waterways.  In some areas, underground systems of stormwater and sewers are close together and if pipes are cracked or old, infiltration (water seeps both in and out of pipelines) can occur.   The mixing of stormwater into sanitary sewers cause treatment plants to spend money and effort treating stormwater; however the reverse is worse.  Sanitary sewers entering stormwater pipes will result in raw sewage being discharged into waterways.   Neither scenario is good and must be controlled.


Several other states and Northern New Jersey use Combined Sewer Systems, where sanitary sewage and stormwater are stored in the same pipe and are both treated at a wastewater treatment plant.  However, when municipalities with Combined Seweres experience wet wether, the excess volume of water cannot be handled or properly treated at the treatment plant.  Instead of letting water back up into the homes of residents, municipalities have Combined Sewer Outfalls (CSOs) to release the overflow from the Combined Sewers without any treatment into adjacent waters.  The release of this raw sewage into adjacent waters is a major source of non-point source pollution.


49 Avenel Blvd.
Long Branch, NJ 07740

Field Office:

Gateway National Recreation Area
Sandy Hook, New Jersey

Voice: (732) 872-0111
FAX: (732) 872-8041

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