U.S. Water News Online
AVALON, N.J. -- People who hit the beaches of the Jersey
shore over the July 4 holiday will wade, swim and surf in some of the
cleanest ocean waters in the nation, federal officials said.
A rigorous water sampling and analysis program run each summer by
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is keeping tabs on bacteria,
floating debris and other pollutants in hopes of preserving the
safety and recreational appeal of the ocean, EPA Regional
Administrator Jane Kenny said.
Kenny and U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine trumpeted the water monitoring
program during a helicopter tour of the coast that began near Sandy
Hook and ended here.
Riding in the ``Coastal Crusader,'' a blue-and-white Twin Star
helicopter, the two watched as EPA technicians lowered stainless
steel cylinders into the water to take samples for analysis at an EPA
The crew takes similar samples once a week during the summer at 44
major bathing beaches along the coast.
The helicopter and technicians also sample for phytoplankton,
which can give advance warning about the possibility of noxious algae
blooms that threaten water quality and sea life.
The results of the tests are shared with state and local agencies.
``As we approach the prime season for swimming and other
recreational activities at the Jersey shore, I want to assure
everyone that these beaches are among the best monitored in the
country,'' said Kenny, a former department head under then-Gov.
Christie Whitman, who now runs the EPA.
The program has helped curtail the number of New Jersey beaches
closed because of water pollution, she said. Since 1995, there have
been fewer than 50 ocean beach closings due to high bacteria counts,
compared with more than 800 in 1988 alone.
``It's extremely important for folks to know we're in great
shape'' in terms of water quality, said Corzine, D-N.J. ``We're
seeing great results this summer.''
The two were joined by mayors from the beach communities of Cape
May Point, Stone Harbor, Avalon, Middle Township and Upper Township,
who called clean water a key element in their tourism-dependent
``It's vitally important to all of us,'' said Stone Harbor Mayor
Suzanne Walters. ``What keeps the tourists coming are the clean
beaches and ocean.''
Upper Township Mayor Richard Palombo, a pharmacist by trade, said
he has seen a decrease in rashes, earaches and other illnesses caused
by dirty water.
``These illnesses are diminished because of the testing,'' he
Still, more could be done to keep the waters clean, according to
Clean Ocean Action, an environmental advocacy group.
``There still could be improvements to protect human and ecosystem
health, including standards to protect bathers from virus-borne
illness and a mandatory trackdown and elimination of pollution
sources when standards are exceeded,'' said Kari Jermansen, outreach
coordinator for Clean Ocean Action.
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