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Water: Beaches

2008 Swimming Season Update: New Jersey

July 2009


drawing of the state of New Jersey with counties identified in green

Figure 1. New Jersey coastal counties.

The BEACH Act of 2000 requires that coastal and Great Lakes states and territories report to EPA on beach monitoring and notification data for their coastal recreation waters. The BEACH Act defines coastal recreation waters as the Great Lakes and coastal waters (including coastal estuaries) that states, territories, and authorized tribes officially recognize or designate for swimming, bathing, surfing, or similar activities in the water.

This fact sheet summarizes beach monitoring and notification data submitted to EPA by the State of New Jersey for the 2008 swimming season.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been monitoring coastal recreational bathing beaches since 1974 with the participation of local environmental health agencies. Water quality samples are collected once a week at 260 ocean and bay beaches and analyzed for enterococci bacteria.

In addition to water quality monitoring, DEP’s Water Monitoring and Standards Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring performs aerial surveillance of nearshore coastal waters. These surveillance flights enable the evaluation of coastal water quality and the assessment of the nature and extent of public reports of ocean pollution. Surveillance flights continue to record a decrease in the quantity of floatable trash and debris in the coastal waterways compared to the years prior to 1990.

Updated beach conditions and water quality results are posted each day from Memorial Day through Labor Day on the DEP Web site Exit EPA Disclaimer (www.njbeaches.org) and on the phone at 1-800-648-SAND.

Table 1. Breakdown of monitored and unmonitored coastal beaches by county for 2008.
County Total Beaches Monitored Not Monitored
Atlantic 48 48 0
Cape May 69 69 0
Monmouth 59 59 0
Ocean 84 84 0
Totals 260 260 0

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2008 Summary Results

How many notification actions were reported and how long were they?

Bar Graph of Beach notification actions by duration

Figure 2: Beach notification actions by duration.

When bacteria results exceed the standard of 104 enterococci per 100 mL of sample, New Jersey’s approach is to resample to confirm the result. If a second sample exceeds the standard, the beach is closed until additional monitoring shows that bacteria levels are again within the standard. Sample results are posted on the DEP web site. A total of 14 monitored beaches had at least one notification action issued during the 2008 swimming season. All but two of New Jersey’s 71 notification actions lasted two days or less. Figure 2 presents a full breakdown of notification action durations.

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What percentage of days were beaches under a notification action?

Pie Chart of Beach days with and without notification actions

Figure 3: Beach days with and without notification actions.

For New Jersey’s 2008 swimming season, actions were reported about 0.2 percent of the time (Figure 3).

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How do 2008 results compare to previous years?

Table 2 compares 2008 notification action data with monitored beach data from previous years.

Table 2. Beach notification actions, 2006–2008.
Year 2006 2007 2008
Number of monitored beaches 325 264 260
Number of beaches affected by notification actions 22 15 14
Percentage of beaches affected by notification actions 7% 6% 5%
Percentage of beach days affected by notification actions 0.3% 0.4% 0.3%

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What pollution sources possibly impact investigated monitored beaches?

In 2008, New Jersey reports that the majority of beach closings are caused by contaminated stormwater following periods of intense rainfall. All beach samples with results above the standard are followed by a sanitary survey investigation at that beach.

Bar Graph of Percent of Beaches

Figure 4: Percent of investigated monitored beaches affected by possible pollution sources (260 beaches).

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For More Information

New Jersey's 2007 Beach Season Data | General information about beaches

For information about beaches in New Jersey: DEP Web site Exit EPA Disclaimer or 1-800-648-SAND.

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