| Things to think about
Jersey’s great cities, including Trenton, Paterson, Newark,
Camden, Jersey City, and New Brunswick, were located intentionally
on rivers. Each of these distressed cities has a distressed
river running through it. Many of the best revitalization efforts
are focusing on riverfront restoration.
of dissolved oxygen have improved dramatically in New
Jersey over the last 20 years due to improvements in wastewater
treatment. Continued improvement will require improved management of nonpoint source runoff
from suburban development and farming.
The pollution that
causes eutrophication is usually not toxic pollution. Ordinary
nutrients are among the substances that feed the algae and bacteria
that use up the dissolved oxygen. For example, fertilized suburban
lawns contribute to the excessive nutrients that pollute New
Another method of
assessing the health of the aquatic life in New Jersey’s rivers
had shown that approximately one-third of the tested rivers
are not stressed, approximately one-half are moderately stressed,
and 12 percent are severely stressed. Recent resampling (1997-1999)
of many of these rivers has shown little change in most retested
river ecosystems survive only if they have enough dissolved
oxygen. When large quantities of fertilizers and other pollution
run off from our farms, cities and roads, then algae and bacteria
grow quickly in our rivers and use up the oxygen. This process
is known as "eutrophication." Severe eutrophication can kill
fish and other species and change the ecological balance of
rivers are part of the state’s water system, from which we draw
much of our drinking water. Our state has significant industries
that depend on healthy rivers for tourism and for fishing. Some
of the ocean fish harvested by New Jersey businesses are spawned
and hatched in our rivers. Property values are higher adjacent
to healthy bodies of water.
are particularly important ecosystems. They matter not only
to a wide range of freshwater fish and aquatic species, but
also to many birds and insects and to ocean fish that spend
parts of their lives in freshwater. River, or riparian, habitat
is also among the most sensitive and the first to show damage
from pollution and disturbance.
provide valuable recreation to those who have access. They bring
charm and pride to the communities they run through. Sadly,
the poorest and most neglected communities may have the most
oxygen indicator does not tell us everything about river quality.
In addition, relatively insignificant changes in the amount
of oxygen can occasionally cause a station to drop below acceptable
levels, yet the river may not truly be impaired. It is necessary
to have data on river health that are consistently collected
and carefully analyzed to provide a complete picture of water
quality and biological health.
See the Technical Appendix for a change in this indicator since
the 1999 Sustainable State Project Report.
Source: NJ Department of Environmental Protection