State of the Beach/State Reports/NJ

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New Jersey


New Jersey's Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program is a comprehensive water quality testing program that has indicated generally good ocean water quality, although there was a criminal medical waste dumping event that caused 117 closing days at ocean beaches in Cape May County in August 2008. In 2008, Hancock Avenue Beach in Seaside Heights had improved water quality following stormwater system improvements. At Beachwood West Beach in Ocean County, storm drains are vacuumed out at the beginning of each beach season in an effort to improve beachwater quality. Comprehensive beach access information is now available online. There is some concern about a roll-back of progressive beach access policies. Although there is adequate information on shoreline structures and policies exist to restrict their use, a substantial portion of the New Jersey shoreline is armored. Beach fill projects should consider impacts to beach ecology as well as surfing and other coastal recreation activities.

New Jersey Ratings


(+) Coastal towns in New Jersey have been extremely proactive in preventing and banning intentional balloon releases. In 2017 alone, five cities were successful in banning balloon releases to protect the coastline and marine wildlife from plastic pollution.

(+) The Blue Acres and Green Acres Programs identify vulnerable properties and provide funding for buyouts of properties in flood-prone areas, reducing the likelihood of repetitive losses and costly rebuilding.

(+) The Vulnerability Assessment and Mapping Protocol and New Jersey Coastal Community Resilience Demonstration Project help local communities and municipalities conduct geospatial hazard and vulnerability assessments, so local decision-makers can identify vulnerable infrastructure and resources, and use that information to plan for coastal hazards.

(+) In 2015 New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection denied requests from 18 towns or utilities across the state to ignore new regulations designed to prevent them from dumping billions of gallons of raw sewage that flows into local rivers. The new permits require 20 communities with combined sewer overflow pipes, as well as the utilities that handle sewage from those towns, to make infrastructure improvements to curb the amount of sewage dumped into the waterways. The permits also require smaller steps, such as installing signs at outfall pipes and setting up a system to alert the public when overflows occur.

(+) The Facebook page Rethink the Jersey Shore was created by Surfrider Foundation to educate and inform the public and our government about the importance of strategic thinking and planning when it comes to rebuilding the Jersey Shore.

(+) In early 2011 the American Littoral Society was awarded a $1 million grant by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to help solve water pollution problems damaging Barnegat Bay. The grant will support the society’s efforts to clean up polluted storm water runoff, one of the major sources of water quality problems affecting the Bay. The society will work with the Ocean County Department of Planning, the Ocean County Soil Conservation District and the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve to reconstruct identified malfunctioning basins with innovative techniques to remove nutrients, sediments and pathogens.

(+) On June 4, 2009, Mid-Atlantic Governors signed an interstate agreement committing to improve the health of the Atlantic Ocean. Governors from New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia are creating a structure for the States to work together on: development of offshore renewable energy; increased protection of the most unique and sensitive offshore habitats; improved energy security and independence in the region; climate change and sea level rise; and, increased federal support for water quality infrastructure improvements. The agreement created a Governors Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean to continue advocacy for and leveraging of greater state influence on the management of offshore ocean areas and to direct federal and interstate actions and resources.

(+) In November 2006, NJDEP proposed new beach access rules that would repeal the existing Public access to the waterfront rule and replace it with a new Public trust rights rule. The proposed new rule strengthens the Department's existing public access requirements and sets forth specific requirements for Shore Protection Program and Green Acres funding. More info.

(+) New Jersey's Coast 2005 initiative, announced in April 2005, is a comprehensive plan to protect the integrity and economic viability of New Jersey's valuable coastal resources. Under the initiative, the state will strengthen standards and regulations that protect the coastal ecosystem, enhance public access opportunities, expand protection for coastal wildlife and wildlife habitats, and support tourist, seafood and maritime industries.

(+) New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection opened a new laboratory for the Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring in May 2006. The facility will use advanced methods to identify pollution in marine waters.

(+) Shoreline structure locations have been mapped and are available online.

(+) Recognizing the "increasing demand for our State's beach and the dynamic nature of the public trust doctrine," the New Jersey Supreme Court found that the public must be given both access to and use of privately owned dry sand areas. In a subsequent ruling in July 2005 the Supreme Court affirmed an Appeals Court ruling requiring private beach owners to allow reasonably priced public beach access.

(+) The Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program includes aerial surveys to determine if there are any illegal discharges or any visible water quality problems. There are 187 water quality testing locations at recreational beaches along the State's 127 miles of oceanfront.

(+) The NJBPN's 20-year report contains each volume calculation & shoreline position for 100 sites for every year from 1986 through 2006.

(+) New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection awarded more than $3.6 million in grants to fund 11 projects designed to reduce stormwater and restore water quality throughout New Jersey in April 2005.

(+) The Coastal Training Program from the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve provides up-to-date scientific information and skill-building programs for New Jersey’s coastal management community. Program formats include seminars, hands-on skill training, participatory workshops, lectures, and technology demonstrations. Stormwater and Wastewater are two important elements of the program.

(0) More than $1 billion has been spent on beach replenishment efforts in New Jersey over the last three decades, according to data collected by coastal researchers. That money has paid for the placement of roughly 120 million cubic yards of sand on the state's beaches, an amount that could fill a typical dump truck 12 million times, or MetLife Stadium 60 times.

(0) New Jersey accounts for just 3 percent of the U.S. coastline but is by far the biggest recipient of beach protection dollars, with $180 million in federal spending over the last eight years (and that was before the Hurricane Sandy rebuilding!). Out of 93 miles of developed shoreline, New Jersey has beach-widening projects in place along 51 miles. More on this.

(-) There is no sea level rise or climate change adaptation plan, despite having experienced recent coastal disasters.

(-) New Jersey has a very weak rebuilding policy. Coastal property owners have the right to reconstruct after storm events, even if it is in a hazardous area of the coastline. This is currently happening in the rebuilding of Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy, in which damaged and destroyed structures are being rebuilt at the cost of taxpayer dollars, in the same areas which are vulnerable to future storms and flooding.

(-) In February 2011 Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a bill that would have required the state to adopt stricter pollution standards in two years to protect the Barnegat Bay. Christie said adopting the bill’s standard to measure pollution — a system called Total Maximum Daily Loads — was unrealistic in such a short time. But the bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman John McKeon, said the governor’s version is watered down and offers little promise for restoring the bay.

(-) More than 23 billion gallons of raw sewage and other pollutants pour into New Jersey’s rivers and bays each year because aging sewer systems are overwhelmed during heavy rains.

(-) On January 24, 2008, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Lisa Jackson (now head of USEPA) rescinded an Administrative Order that she issued on January 2, 2007 that protected streams by mandating a 300-foot buffer. The DEP reversal makes it much easier for developers to reduce the buffer to 150 feet, requiring just a local government "equivalence" finding.

(-) On March 5, 2007, Governor Jon Corzine issued an extension of the Department of Environmental Protection water quality management planning rules. This was the second deferral of these rules under Corzine who, on June 19, 2006, had extended the decision deadline until January 31, 2007. A table identifying locations of proposed new provisions and comparing the existing water quality management planning rule with proposed major changes was finally published in the May 21, 2007 New Jersey Register.

(-) 43% of New Jersey’s developed shoreline is armored.

(-) At least 392 groins and jetties are located along New Jersey’s open ocean coastline.

(-) Some beach fill projects threaten surfing, diving, and fishing areas.

(-) Over the past decade, the State Department of Environmental Protection has approved 95% of the development applications it has received in its coastal review zone. During that same period, the Army Corps of Engineers has denied only six of the nearly 3,000 applications it received for dock construction and modifications.


  • Banning Intentional Balloon Releases in Bradley Beach The Jersey Shore Chapter successfully urged the Mayor and Council of Bradley Beach, NJ to ban the intentional release of balloons. This simple ordinance is very similar to ones passed in towns in South Jersey and implements a $500 fine for offenders. On October 10th, the Bradley Beach Council passed ordinance 2017-26 banning the intentional release of balloons in the borough.
  • Banning Balloon Releases in North Wildwood The South Jersey Chapter worked with North Wildwood to convince the city council to ban intentional balloon releases in North Wildwood. This was the first such ordinance in Cape May County but it is very similar to ordinances passed recently in Atlantic County towns. It simply bans the intentional release of balloons in the town. Chapter activists Sarah and Debbie Visalli worked with town officials and convinced them to introduce the ordinance. Balloons are made of either latex or a specialized plastic with the trade name of Mylar. Their ribbons are almost always plastic and this is why they are persistent and dangerous in the marine environment.
  • Ban Balloon Releases in Long Beach Township The Jersey Shore Chapter supported an effort in Long Beach Township, NJ to ban balloon releases just like several other towns further south have done at the urging of the South Jersey Chapter. Balloons are picked up on NJ beaches everyday and Long Beach Township is no exception. In fact, this town has some remote areas that are not walked or cleaned regularly so balloon litter is likely more prevalent there. The ordinance proposed will ban intentional balloon releases within the Township and places a $500 fine on violators. The ordinance passed on June 5, 2017.
  • No Balloon Releases in Atlantic City The South Jersey Chapter wants to ban intentional outdoor balloon releases in Atlantic City, NJ as they have done in other towns. Chapter leaders in South Jersey have taken the ordinance of one town which bans balloon releases, and brought it to other towns to do the same thing. On February 23, 2017 the Atlantic City Council unanimously passed the ordinance. Atlantic City is by far the biggest town to pass such a balloon ordinance so far. Balloons are senseless litter if released into the environment. They can entangle wildlife or be ingested by them. Balloons are often picked up on beach cleanup since they don't degrade in the environment. More.
  • No Balloon Releases in Ventnor The South Jersey Chapter is encouraging Ventnor, NJ to join neighboring "Downbeach" towns in banning local balloon releases. Chapter activists presented a sample ordinance and have been showing up at town meetings to support it. On February 16th, at the second reading of the ordinance, it was passed by the Ventnor Board of Commissioners unanimously. Intentionally released balloons end up as unsightly litter as well as endanger birds and marine animals through entanglement or ingestion. Partner organizations on this victory include Sustainable Ventnor / Sustainable Downbeach. More.
  • Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Planning We are pleased to announce that on December 7, 2016, the National Ocean Council certified the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Plan, launching us headlong into a more sustainable future and a paradigm shift in ocean management that looks at the ocean holistically as a system, rather than managing piecemeal by agency, spatial boundary, specific use, threat or species. Learn more by reading (and sharing!) our Coastal Blog. Now that the ocean plan is final, the Surfrider Foundation will engage in the vital work of implementation. Our staff and volunteers will continue to participate in ocean planning meetings to improve the iterative plan so that it best represents our goals in protecting the ocean and coastal ecosystems, and recreational areas. We'll be calling upon our ocean industry leader friends - surf shop owners, kayak tour guides, beachside pub and restaurant owners, SUP racers and the like - to help us engage locally as federal and state agencies begin to fully utilize the best practices established in the plan, and integrate the inherent expertise of our coastal communities and ocean users into decision-making processes that will inform the future of the sea.
  • Banning Balloon Releases in Longport The South Jersey Chapter wants to ban balloon releases in Longport, NJ and they are using a model ordinance from the town next door, Margate. Margate already had an ordinance prohibiting the release of balloons, so activists including Bill Stuempfig and Carol Jones are working to have the Longport Borough Council take similar action. Longport was the first town in NJ to put a fee on single use plastic bags so we are hopeful the same desire to protect the environment and marine life will help see this ordinance through. Text of the passed ordinance is here.
  • Longport Fee on Bags The South Jersey Chapter successfully advocated to make Longport, NJ the first town in NJ to pass an ordinance regarding plastic bags as part of their "Downbeach" effort on bags, which includes the towns of Ventnor and Margate. More info.
  • Oppose Resident-Only Permit Parking in Deal The Borough of Deal proposed an ordinance to restrict parking on six streets near the beach to residents of those streets by permit only. The Jersey Shore Chapter and a number of other groups want the town to rescind the ordinance and scrap the whole idea of permit parking. Following an outpouring of public pressure against the proposed ordinance, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection reported to the Associated Press that officials in Deal said they were tabling the ordinance that would have restricted parking on six streets near the newly replenished beaches to residents only.
  • South Jersey - No Sod and Sprinklers in Planting Strip A South Jersey Chapter activist, Bill Stuempfig, was excited to apply Ocean Friendly Gardens principles in his family's property in Ocean City, NJ after he created an OFG at his primary home. But while rebuilding after Sandy, he found out the town required sod grass and sprinklers in front yards. In the process he also found out that Ocean City was trying to make sod and sprinklers a requirement in the planting strip as well. He spoke out at a City Council hearing on the ordinance and brought solutions in the form of OFG principles for the town to consider. The City pulled the proposed ordinance.
  • NJ Now Posting Warnings After One High Bacteria Test The Surfrider Foundation criticized the The State of NJ for not posting warnings or closing beaches after water testing revealed a high level of bacteria. NJ would re-test and only close a beach if there were high bacteria readings two days in a row, which almost never happened. The state has decided to post warnings after one high test for bacteria at any given site.
  • NJ/NY LNG Victory Surfrider Chapters in NY and NJ scored a major victory when the NJ Governor declared he would veto a Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) facility off of Asbury Park. This was on the eve of public hearings for the project named Liberty Natural Gas. Previous LNG applications were also withdrawn due to public opposition. The Liberty Natural Gas project was a proposed turret and pipeline under the seafloor. LNG tankers would have connected to the turret, re-gasified the LNG and pumped it into a pipeline system onshore in NJ. Proponents claimed it was different since it required no island to be built and no floating barge was needed. Several Chapters, especially Jersey Shore worked on this issue lead by groups like Clean Ocean Action and Food and Water Watch. The previous effort to defeat ASIG’s island proposal was lead mainly by the NYC Chapter.
  • No LNG Island The Atlantic Sea Island Groups, ASIG, withdrew their application to build a giant man-made island to serve as an LNG terminal in the Atlantic between NY and NJ. The NYC Chapter, ably assisted by the Central Long Island and Jersey Shore chapters, fought the proposal for years with the help of the NJ-based Clean Ocean Action. The Chapters gathered petition signatures to both NY and NJ Governors, they packed public hearings, they held press conferences, and they did paddle-outs. They even got the City of Long Beach, NY to send a letter to NY Governor Paterson opposing the project. Long Beach would have been the closest land to the island, 13 miles offshore. The island would have covered over 60 acres above the surface and more than 100 acres of the seafloor on the Cholera Banks, a natural reef and noted fishing area. Supertankers filled with LNG would unload at the facility and the gas would be piped to shore and up NY and NJ gas lines. Huge security zones would leave the area off limits to fishing, diving, and boating.
  • Recycling Bins Along Boardwalk in Atlantic City The South Jersey Chapter pushed to have recycling bins placed on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, a heavily visited stretch of coast. Previously only trash bins were provided so recyclables were disposed in the landfill.
  • Public Hearings required for Beach Fill Projects in NJ. Beach fill projects in NJ have had some disastrous and unintended consequences. Residents and beach users had no forum to bring up or discuss the potential pitfalls of beach fill. Through hearings, letter writing, and legislative contact, chapter members pushed for this common sense legislation. The new law will now require a public hearing to take place before any beach replenishment project goes forward.
  • Ocean Protection Law in NJ. A new law in NJ will require the Department of Environmental Protection to move towards a policy of ecosystem based management. It also establishes the Ocean Protection Council and charges the Council with studying, coordinating, and developing plans for ecosystem based management in NJ. The Jersey Shore Chapter of Surfrider Foundation worked with the The Coastal Ocean Coalition of NJ to pass this legislation.
  • The Jersey Shore Chapter mobilized 50 people on a cold, windy Saturday to complete a coastal mapping project on Long Beach Island. The information was gathered to influence a beach fill project planned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Surfing Returns to Asbury Park After a 30-year ban on the sport, the Jersey Shore Chapter was successful in bringing surfing back as a recreational sport and economic vehicle to the city of Asbury Park.
  • Opened 7 beaches to surfing in New Jersey Work by Jersey Shore Chapter activists helped convince the Long Beach Township Commission to approve designating seven areas along its beach for surfers only during the summer season. In Ocean City, the South Jersey Chapter convinced the city to increase the number of summer surfing beaches from two to three.
  • Ocean Hazard Removed The South Jersey Chapter alerted officials to a dangerous situation regarding an outfall pipe at 30th street (a designated surfing beach) in Avalon. With the help and permission of the Mayor, the chapter installed an eight-foot-high post on the end of the structure with reflectors.

To see all of Surfrider Foundation's coastal victories and campaigns, go here.

State of the Beach Report: New Jersey
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