FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 25, 2023
Vincent Grassi (609) 984-1795
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Caryn Shinske (609) 984-1795
(23/P034) TRENTON – New Jersey’s coastal beaches and inland lakes are ready for the summer season, New Jersey Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette announced today during the annual State of the Shore event in Asbury Park.
At the event, Commissioner LaTourette provided a general overview of ongoing water quality monitoring, noting that ocean water quality going into the holiday weekend is excellent.
“Our coastal beaches, lakes and state parks are ready for the important summer tourism season,” Commissioner LaTourette said. “The DEP and our many partners at the local level have been working hard to get ready for the season and will continue to do so all summer long, so that residents and visitors can enjoy a safe and carefree summer. Whether you plan to visit the Jersey shore or spend time at one of our beautiful lake communities, it’s shaping up to be a fantastic summer, so let’s get outside and have a wonderful time.”
Each year, the State of the Shore event provides an opportunity to update the public on beach readiness and coastal water quality. It is sponsored by the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium, an association of academic institutions across the state committed to resolving coastal and marine issues, developing marine technology, advancing science-based policy and furthering education and outreach efforts.
“New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium’s State of the Shore and Memorial Day go hand-in-hand as the official markers of a true New Jersey summer at the shore,” said Executive Director Dr. Peter Rowe. “It is important to our organization to investigate how our beaches fared over the winter and potential outlooks for the warmer seasons. Our beaches are both ecologically and economically vital for both local New Jerseyans and visitors during the summer, making understanding of their status all the more important. We are pleased to have the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection involved in the care and concern of our beaches and to have Commissioner LaTourette contribute to this event.”
The DEP is equally committed to a safe and enjoyable season for the lake communities of northern New Jersey. This past weekend, Commissioner LaTourette and Assistant Commissioner of Watershed and Land Management Katrina Angarone participated in a block party hosted by the Lake Hopatcong Foundation during which Bureau of Freshwater and Biological Monitoring staff demonstrated a new robotic boat designed to advance the DEP’s commitment to economically important lake communities. The drone-like vessel is programmed to automatically travel on the lake, acquiring water quality data.
This robot boat complements a host of efforts the DEP has been advancing under the Murphy Administration to ensure lake water quality, including providing grants for projects to protect lake water quality, advancing scientific monitoring and water quality enhancements, and enhancing public outreach and education.
“Summer in New Jersey, for many, means a trip ‘down the shore’ to enjoy the sand and surf. But for those who live on or near one of New Jersey’s numerous freshwater lakes, summer is all about paddling a kayak, hoisting a sail, casting a line, or taking a dip in clean, clear water,” said Kyle Richter, Executive Director of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation.
“Lake Hopatcong, the state’s largest freshwater lake, which receives some 500,000 visitors per year, relies on clean water to power its local economy of restaurants, marinas, swim clubs, and more, as well as providing public access for more and more visitors each year, through its public parks,” Richter added. “Thanks to a strong partnership with NJDEP, many water quality projects have come online to help protect and improve our lake and keep it healthy for the many people who rely on it, in summer and beyond.”
During the Asbury Park event today, Dr. Jon K. Miller, Sea Grant Coastal Processes Specialist and Director of the Coastal Engineering Group for the Stevens Institute of Technology, provided an overview of beach conditions along the coast.
“Overall, most New Jersey beaches remain in good condition heading into the summer thanks to a fifth straight mild winter and sustained state and federal efforts to maintain the state’s beaches through beach nourishment,” said Dr. Miller.
The most significant erosion occurred last fall in parts of the southern New Jersey shore when the remnants of Hurricane Ian brushed the coast. Although storm intensity was moderate, the prolonged period of wave action caused notable erosion along parts of the coast.
The Sea Grant Consortium noted the state’s ongoing work to improve the resilience of the coast in the face of the worsening impacts of climate change. “As we move towards an uncertain future impacted by climate change, it is certain that natural landscape features including beaches and dunes, maritime forests, and coastal wetlands will all continue to play a critical role in achieving balance and resilience within the natural/built system,” the Sea Grant report stated.
Under Governor Murphy, the DEP has forged strong partnerships with stakeholders, including local and federal partners, to implement a comprehensive approach to coastal resilience planning and adaptation. A key part of this strategy is providing protection to communities through storm protection projects, including robust dune and beach construction and nourishment projects.
The U.S. Army Corps, in partnership with the DEP, completed a $25 million beach renourishment project in northern Ocean City this past February and will soon complete a $43 million project in Avalon and Stone Harbor. The DEP earlier this year received the necessary local state aid agreements needed for design, planning and real estate acquisition work for the beach and dune project for Five Mile Island, which encompasses North Wildwood, Wildwood, Wildwood Crest and Lower Township.
The DEP also partners with local health agencies to conduct weekly bacterial water sampling of ocean, river and bay beaches from mid-May through September as part of its Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program. In addition, the program conducts daily flights of the coastline and lakes to check for any water quality concerns. Information about the status of beaches and water quality along the coast is available at njbeaches.org. The DEP also provides an interactive map providing information on lake water quality.
During the 2022 season, water quality was monitored at 193 ocean, 20 bay, and 7 river stations. One ocean beach and one bay beach were closed for one day each due to exceedances of the bacterial standard.
Follow @NJBeachReport on Twitter for daily updates on the status of New Jersey beaches during the summer.