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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2013

Contact: Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Lawrence Ragonese (609) 292-2994
Bob Considine (609) 984-1795

CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION OUTLINES EFFORTS TO RESTORE SHORE FOR
SUMMER SEASON DURING ANNUAL STATE OF THE SHORE EVENT IN BELMAR

Jersey Shore open for business, excellent water quality reported and most beaches open for season

(13/P57) TRENTON – With the upcoming Memorial Day weekend marking the unofficial start to summer, the Christie Administration today provided an update on the state’s efforts to prepare beach communities and waterways for the first tourism season since Superstorm Sandy during the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium’s annual State of the Shore event.

“The Jersey shore is open,” Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said during the event held near the newly rebuilt boardwalk in Belmar. “Water quality is excellent. Our beaches, boardwalks and businesses are open and ready. We’re looking forward to a great season, one that will show the nation just how strong and resilient our communities and our people truly are.”

This is the 11th annual State of the Shore. The event typically highlights environmental and tourism trends at the shore but has taken on special meaning this year as a result of Sandy.

“This year, because of the Sandy-related challenges experienced by so many Jersey Shore communities, it’s even more important to provide the public with a clear and accurate overview of the condition of New Jersey’s beaches and coastal resources,” said Sea Grant Consortium Executive Director Claire Antonucci.  “The annual State of the Shore provides a perfect opportunity for us to let people know that the beaches are all still there, the water is fine, amenities and attractions are back in business, and the Jersey shore is ready.”

Municipalities have been working tirelessly to get their beaches and their communities ready for the season, removing debris and thoroughly raking sand in the months after Sandy. They report that virtually all beaches are now open and that no debris to very little debris is being observed. The state will work closely with them in continuing to monitor water quality and protect public safety as cleanup continues.

“Visitors planning their vacations to the Jersey shore can rest assured that every possible precaution is being taken to ensure they have a safe and enjoyable time,” Commissioner Martin said.

The state, working with municipal and county health agencies, has utilized a multifaceted approach to ensure the safety of all recreational beaches. They include the following steps:

  • The DEP is working with state debris removal contracts to use side-scan sonar to scan waters off the beaches and remove debris that presents a safety or health threat.
  • State aircraft will regularly fly over the coastline to continue searching for debris and monitoring water quality. These flights so far have spotted very little debris.
  • The DEP and Department of Health have advised municipalities to monitor the beaches and surf zone. Lifeguards routinely check recreational beaches every morning. The state requests that they do a second check each day.
  • If you see any debris, it is important that you contact a lifeguard immediately. If no lifeguard is available, contact local police or the local health department or call the DEP hotline at 1-877-WARNDEP (1-877-927-6337).
  • Beachgoers are advised that beaches may have sudden and steep drop-offs. Swim only at beaches with lifeguards.

The Christie Administration mobilized immediately after Sandy struck to begin cleanup and prepare the shore for the summer season, working closely with towns and counties to spearhead the efficient and safe removal of some eight million cubic yards of land debris. This was one of the largest undertakings of its kind ever in the nation.

In general, Sandy’s record storm surge pushed water debris into bays, wetlands, rivers and creeks. Attention shifted in March to making bays and other inland waterways safe for boating and fishing. Significant progress has been made with nearly 50,000 cubic yards of debris removed from these waterways. Most of the largest debris has been removed from hard-hit Barnegat Bay.

Cleanup priority has been given to navigation channels, which have been remarked as necessary.  Boaters need to be aware of potential obstacles and adjust their speed accordingly for safety, especially if they venture from the marked channels.

Enhanced pre-season water quality monitoring, meanwhile, indicates that water quality meets strict state and federal standards. New Jersey’s beaches consistently rank among the best in the nation for water quality. They were open 99.7 percent of the time last season. Excellent water quality is expected again this season.

The Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program, a state, local and federal partnership, will continue to monitor water quality at beaches all summer long. The counties and municipalities play a key role in the process of ensuring water quality and making determinations about beach closures. Should any beaches need to be closed for any reason, they will be posted at: www.njbeaches.org.

For information on the Sea Grant Consortium and the Annual State of the Store report, visit: http://www.njseagrant.org.

You can also find a wealth of information on the DEP’s Sandy recovery efforts, including FAQs on beach and boater safety, at: www.state.nj.us/dep/special/hurricane-sandy.

Follow on Twitter @NJBeachReport.

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Last Updated: May 16, 2013