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new jersey department of environmental protection  


Living with the Future in Mind
Goals and Indicators for New Jersey's Quality of Life
First Annual Update to the Sustainable State Project Report 2000

Indicator 36

Additional  Protected Natural Resources Indicators

34 - Energy Consumption

35 - Farmland

37 - Preserved and Developed Land

Beach Closings: Ocean and Bay

Number of times per year a New Jersey beach has been closed to the public due to unhealthful conditions: Decreasing

  Things to think about 

Through great efforts in controlling pollution, especially sewage-related discharges, ocean and bay beach closings have been dramatically reduced.

New Jersey not only has fewer beach closings than other shoreline states, but also achieves this with higher standards and more comprehensive monitoring than most.

People once believed incorrectly that the ocean was so vast that it could absorb any amount of pollution.

Our beaches continue to face new threats from off our shores and we need to be diligent about protecting our coastal waters.


Millions of people visit our beaches every year. The Jersey Shore is a key element of quality of life in our state and a major tourist draw that contributes significantly to the state economy. Generally, beach closings are caused by nonpoint source pollution, typically due to runoff from streets and lawns. Less frequently, failures in sewage collection and treatment systems occur and may result in beach closings.


Beach closings are highly visible events that can drive away potential visitors and reduce the large revenues that are otherwise generated by coastal tourism. They tarnish the general reputation of our state, hurting our chances to attract new jobs and businesses.


Extended beach closings represent serious incidents of pollution mainly due to elevated levels of fecal coliform from wildlife and stormwater runoff. Beaches are closed when conditions are detected that may be unhealthful for humans. No closings have been attributable to floating debris since 1990.


Many families have gone to the beach every summer for generations. The beach provides recreation for people of all ages. Beach closings ruin this pastime and limit our options for summer outings. Trips to the shore are an important part of New Jersey’s quality of life.

Knowledge Gaps

Pollution levels may be just short of the level at which a closing is required for many days a year, but that would not show up in this indicator. Although the monitoring performed for recreational bathing is very comprehensive, it does not include all contaminants. Ecosystems can be affected by lower levels of pollution and by factors that are not threats to human health.

Note: See the Technical Appendix for a change in the description of this indicator since the 1999 Sustainable State Project Report.

 Data Source: NJ Department of Environmental Protection

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2006
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Modified: May 1, 2007

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