New report says New Jersey’s ocean water quality is ‘outstanding’

BY Leah Mishkin, Correspondent |

Residents are seeing the positive effects of beach nourishment projects over the last 30 years, according to the director of the Coastal Research Center at Stockton University, Stewart Farrell.

All 97 miles of developed shoreline in New Jersey are under federal jurisdiction. Farrell explains the feds agreed to pay 65% of the cost of bringing sand to the beach. Of the remaining cost, most is picked up by the state and the rest by local governments.

“Bottom line is we have a bigger, better, wider beach. It means the waves break further from the houses, dissipate their energy before they get to the houses, and the dunes block them from actually hitting the houses. So that’s the big promise for the ocean front work. Back bay flooding is an entirely different game,” said Farrell.

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe spoke about what is being done to combat back bay flooding at the second Jersey Shore Beach Report.

“We now have a chief resilience office and New Jersey DEP, again with partners, is working on a coastal resilience plan. We also plan to broaden that out to a climate change strategic plan for the entire state,” McCabe said.

As for water quality?

“The ocean water quality here is outstanding. Last year, the monitoring that we do weekly from mid-May to mid-September showed that our ocean beaches meet standards 98% of the time. A little less if you go into the back bay side and include that, but we’re still doing pretty good at 95%,” she said.

Stockton University works with the state DEP to survey the beach at 171 sites twice a year. The school has been involved in coastal research for over 35 years.

“There’s a history, there’s a relationship with the communities that is second to none. In addition to that, in addition to the science, Stockton has many other elements that play a very important role in changing public policy,” said Jim Rutala, principal at Rutala Associates.

There is a plan to build an incubator facility at Stockton University’s Atlantic City Campus to move coastal resiliency programs forward. It’s a way for federal, state, local, nonprofit, and private companies to come together. It’s slated to open by the end of this year or early 2020.