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Committees Pass Four Bills that will Save Bay

Date : Thu, 12 Aug 2010 16:38:49 -0400

For Immediate Release
August 12, 2010 Contact Jeff Tittel, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100

Committees Pass Four Bills that will Save Bay

Toms River, Ocean County - Today the Assembly and Senate Environment Committees passed a suite of bills that will help protect Barnegat Bay. After years of inaction, the four bills on the Barnegat Bay are welcomed as first steps to protecting the resource.

"Together , these four bills are a major step forward to protect Barnegat Bay," NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said. "There's still a lot of work to be done in order to protect the bay, like putting up cooling towers at Oyster Creek and stopping sprawl and overdevelopment, but today was a victory for clean water and the environment."

The bills include statewide requirements for slow release nitrogen in fertilizers (S1411/A2290), statewide requirements for soil reconstruction after construction (S1410/A2501)), and two bills to reduce stormwater in Ocean County (S1856/A2606 and (S1815/A2577).

The fertilizer bill was the most controversial of the group and passed the Assembly by 5 yeas and 2 abstentions. It passed the Senate by 4 yeas and 1 abstention.

"We still have a lot of obstacles of overcome," Tittel said. "Special interests will try to kill the fertilizer bill by piling on misinformation. The fertilizer bill is needed to help protect the bay and waterways and throughout New Jersey."

. Statewide Fertilizer Bill (S1411/A2290) o Fertilizer runoff from lawns contaminates the Bay with chemicals and nutrients. The excess nitrogen creates algae blooms which reduce oxygen levels in the water and block sunlight. This creates a habitat that is inhospitable to sea grass and marine life, but is ideal for sea nettles and jelly fish. o This bill would reduce the levels of nitrogen and prohibit phosphorus, with some exceptions, allowed in fertilizer sold at retail and used by professional landscapers in New Jersey. It would also require public education on the over-use of fertilizers, prohibit fertilizer application during winter and require less harmful forms of nitrogen be used in fertilizers.

. Soil Health Bill (S1410/A2501) o During construction soil is compacted and can become as hard as pavement. Compacted soils create more impervious cover, resulting in more runoff and less groundwater recharge. o This bill would develop standards for restoration of soil destroyed during construction activities, and to protect soils from excessive and unnecessary compaction, removal, and alteration

. Stormwater Utility Authority Bill (S1815/A2577) o Commercial and residential development in the area is a continuous threat to the Bay. Construction increases runoff and sedimentation which causes a decrease in water quality. Simultaneously freshwater is being drawn out of aquifer at a rate faster than recharge. A saltier Bay leads to increased nutrient levels and higher concentration of those nutrients. o This bill develops stormwater utility guidance for Ocean County, serving as a model for the state and would provide the funds to maintain, improve, clean up, and fix old storm water systems.

. Stormwater Bill (S1856/A2606) o This bill also allows Ocean County to charge a fee to developers to address stormwater issues and to provide an incentive to reduce pollution from new developments.

The Sierra Club is pleased that the legislature is turning its attention to addressing nonpoint pollution in the Bay. However, the key pieces to protecting the bay - limiting overdevelopment and implementing cooling towers on Oyster Creek are still necessary.

Every day, 2.8% of the total volume of Barnegat Bay moves through Oyster Creek to cool the plant's systems. This artificially heated water kills fish and pollutes the bay. All of these activities have upset the natural balance of this critical waterway.

Barnegat Bay is the Jersey Shore's most heavily used body of water. On a summer weekend 100,000 people can be boating on the bay at different times. The Bay is a critical part of New Jersey's $4 billion tourism industry and there is worth a $100 billion in ratables in and around the Bay. If we allow the bay to die, we lose that portion of the economy.

"What's important to save the bay is to get beyond local and parochial interest. The current system is broken. If we don't change things the bay will die. This legislation is even more important now, given the Christie Administration's attacks on the environment - weakening stormwater protections, holding up water quality planning rules, allowing sewers to be put into environmentally sensitive area - are all affecting Barnegat Bay," Tittel said.

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Kara Seymour, Program Assistant NJ Sierra Club 145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618 609.656.7612 (f) 609.656.7618  <http://www.newjersey.sierraclub.org/> www.newjersey.sierraclub.org   Received on 2010-08-12 13:38:49

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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