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Barnegat Bay Report Finds Conditions Worsening

Date : Fri, 20 Jul 2012 11:37:30 -0400

For Immediate Release
July 11, 2012 Contact Jeff Tittel 609-558-9100

Barnegat Bay Report Finds Conditions Worsening

Today the Rutgers Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences (IMCS) released a report on the deteriorating health of Barnegat Bay.The report shows that pollution is worse in the Bay than previously thought as a result of nitrate and phospohorus pollution and eutrophication.Governor Christie’s policies have only made the problems at Barnegat Bay worse by delaying a standards to address nutrient pollution and to clean up stormwater.The Christie Administration is letting the health of Barnegat Bay continue to deteriorate instead of taking the steps needed to protect the Bay.Each year there may be some variables based on rainfall but the trend is things are going from bad to worse.Dry years are much dirtier than previous dry years.The trend is that the Bay is heading toward eutrophication and will die.Areas that were clean 10 or 15 years ago are now showing problems that were originally only seen in northern part of Bay such as higher levels of nutrients, jellyfish, and loss of eel grass.As development heads south along the Bay we are seeing more pollution.Water quality impacts are following the development.There is enough data in this report to declare the Bay impaired and implement a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Bay

"This report is an alarm bell going off that Barnegat Bay will die unless strong programs are put in place to protect the Bay.The Christie administration now has no excuse not to move forward with strong protections and listing the Bay as impaired.The time for studies and photo-ops is over.Strong measures need to be taken to protect the Bay.Picking up litter will not do anything for the Bay unless we have impervious cover limits and land use restrictions," *said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club*."The DEP is more concerned about owning a submarine in the ocean then cleaning up the bay. They are looking at dissolved oxygen in the ocean but not the bay." The Barnegat Bay continues to deteriorate while the administration focuses on studies instead of implementing land use or pollution reduction policies.Last year the DEP Office of Science released a study concluding the Barnegat Bay continues to deteriorate due to nutrient pollution from too much nitrogen and phosphorus.The Governor vetoed a bill that would have reduced the amount of non-point pollution entering the Bay through a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).Instead the administration focuses on publicity events like the Barnegat Bay Blitz, which cleans up litter but does not address its source, failing stormwater basins.The Governor vetoed two bills that would have helped towns develop storm water management plans and fund detention basin retrofits and demonstration projects.Allowing the Bay to get worse will jeopardize the $3.3 billion a year coastal tourism industry and $100 billion in ratables around the Bay.

"When the Governor vetoed the TMDL bill he killed a real chance to clean up the Bay.Now there should be no more excuses; we need to move forward with a TMDL otherwise there will not be any Barnegat Bay," *said Jeff Tittel*. Governor Christie is rolling back water quality protection rules and other environmental regulations that have actually protected and cleaned up the Barnegat Bay, the coast, and our beaches.The DEP is overhauling and weakening Category 1 protections, stream buffer rules, flood hazard area rules and the stormwater management rules which will put more non-point storm pollution in our waterways. Governor Christie’s administration has delayed the Water Quality Planning Rules and the DEP is working to weaken them further by adding thousands of acres of environmentally sensitive lands back into sewer areas.This will encourage more sprawl and overdevelopment and could end up doubling the population around Barnegat Bay. The Christie Administration continues to move forward with the DEP Waiver Rule which will allow polluters and developers to evade state environmental standards.The DEP will begin considering waiver applications in August.This could allow ocean dumping and undermine clean water regulations.

"For decades we have made progress in cleaning up our beaches and water ways along our coasts, bays, and estuaries. All those gains are at risk with the Christie Administration’s policies siding with special interest and polluters over the public and the environment," said Tittel. Governor Christie’s policies are putting New Jersey’s beaches at risk.The administration needs to move forward, not backward, and take steps to continue the past progress made in coastal protections.We need to upgrade our streams to Category 1 to protect water quality and to put in place better programs for fixing storm water programs along the bays and water ways. We need better testing and monitoring and to limit overdevelopment from impacting water quality.

"We have to stand up and protect our beaches, otherwise what we love most about living in New Jersey will be gone," said Tittel. The report can be viewed at:<a>

Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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