Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rutgers prof warns: Action needed to save Barnegat Bay

Press of Atlantic City graphic

The declining health of Barnegat Bay has been the focus for several years of a joint summer meeting held by the environmental committees of New Jersey's Senate and Assembly.

At the 2012 session, conducted yesterday before a standing-room-only audience in the Ocean County shore town of Lavallette, a Rutgers University researcher told committee members that the bay continues to deteriorate and that corrective action is needed quickly
on several fronts.

Based on a recently conducted study that stretched over several years, Michael Kennish, a research professor at the Rutgers University Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, warned against inaction:

“ We really need to ramp it up. We’re nowhere near where we need to be in order to fix it.”

Outside the hearing, Kennish summarized the problem for reporters. (Click arrow for video)

Kennish urged the state to set Total Maximum Discharge Limits (TMDLs) to restrict the amounts of  nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorous, that flow into the bay in runoff from roads and other paved surfaces. Similar standards have been implemented to deal with pollution problems in Chesapeake Bay.

He also recommended that more action be taken to upgrade some 2,700 storm water basins throughout Ocean County--many of which are malfunctioning and, during heavy rainstorms, fail to hold back polluted runoff that streams into the bay.

Ultimate, Kennish said that the problem of land use (development and population) would have to be addressed if the bay is to be saved.

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Senate Environment and Energy Committee Chairman Bob Smith tells reporters below that he believes Governor Chris Christie would sign legislation to implement stormwater basin repairs if Ocean County's Republican freeholders, who have balked at the expensive proposition, get behind the idea.

NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel acknowledges that solutions to Barnegat Bay's problem present political challenges for any governor.

Your thoughts on Barnegat Bay and efforts to reverse its deterioration?
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Related environmental news stories:
Latest Study of Barnegat Bay Shows Conditions Worsening for Tarnished ‘Jewel’ 
New research shows Barnegat Bay could be declared legally 'impaired'
Study says Barnegat Bay ecosystem will continue to decline unless development, runoff decreases

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