Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sniffing out what's befouling the Navesink River

Navesink River pollution meeting Tuesday in Rumson, NJ (EnviroPolitics photo) 



If there was any doubt about the determination of environmental groups, the
New Jersey DEP, local officials, and residents to reverse the trend of declining
water quality in the Navesink River they were dispelled last night by the large
crowd of people who sat patiently for hours in a humid hall in Rumson, listening
to presentations about the problem and possible solutions.

John T. Ward covered the event for Red Bank Green and reports:

An alarming rise in bacterial pollution levels of the Navesink River drew more than 100 people to the historic Bingham Hall in Rumson on a humid summer night Tuesday.
Among many questions to be addressed were what’s causing a rise in fecal coliform levels, and how can it be stopped?
“We all know what the smoking gun is: stormwater runoff,” Christopher Obropta, a specialist in water resources with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension.
The event, organized by Clean Ocean Action, came 18 months after the the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection suspended shellfish harvesting in 566 acres of the Navesink because of unacceptably high levels of fecal coliform, bacteria that occur in the intestines of warmblooded animals. This February, the DEP finalized the downgrade.
Marina on the Navesink River in Rumson, NJ (EnviroPolitics)
Cindy Zipf, Clean Ocean Action’s founder and executive director, told the audience that the purpose of the event was to rally not only government agencies but environmental organizations and individuals to attack the problem.
“We’re going to lose that final direct-harvest clam bed [in the New York region] if we don’t do something,” she said. Invoking the ocean-dumping of raw sewage that gave rise to the Sandy Hook-based nonprofit in 1984, she said, “nobody thought we could bring back the ocean, but we did.”
Clean Ocean Action attorney Zach Lees unveiled the findings of a yearlong study he authored that takes a comprehensive historical and scientific view of the Navesink.
Among its findings: the waterway is “safe for boating,” according to the DEP, but doesn’t meet swimmable water quality standards.
“We’re still getting fecal counts over what we consider safe for swimming,” Lees said. Zipf called the safe-boating designation “a pretty low bar.”
Here’s the full report: COA Navesink Pathogens 062816
The event featured presentations by a handful of experts, including Bob Schuster, of the DEP’s bureau of marine water monitoring, who described changes in agency’s nonpoint source tracking program aimed at expediting the delivery of data about pollution levels to municipal officials, with the aim of attacking bacterial incursions at their sources.
Read the full story here

Related news story: Navesink River's water quality under review

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