DEP AND NJDOT WORKING TO ENSURE PROTECTION OF BARNEGAT BAY WATER
QUALITY DURING ROUTE 35 STORMWATER SYSTEM SEALING OPERATIONS
(16/19) TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection is continuing to work with the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) to ensure protection of water quality in Barnegat Bay as the NJDOT works to seal pipe and manhole connections for its Route 35 stormwater drainage system.
Testing by the DEP’s Bureau of Marine Water Quality Monitoring this week confirmed that water from the outfall pipes at Kearney Avenue in Seaside Heights, L Street, Island Avenue and 8th Avenue and 22nd Avenue in Seaside Park, meets state and federal recreational bathing standards.
The results ranged from less than three units to 67 units per 100 milliliter for Enterococci bacteria. The recreational bathing standard is 104 units per 100 milliliters.
Nutrient levels measured as total nitrogen and phosphorous were also consistent with what is found in the Barnegat Bay watershed.
Earlier this week, NJDOT announced that the operation of the pumps is needed to allow workers to seal the stormwater system and advised the public that this would result in some turbidity at its outfalls points into the bay as pumped-out water stirs up sand and silt.
DEP testing results confirmed turbidity in areas of the outfalls consistent with sand and silt being stirred up on the bay floor or, in some cases, coming from the pipes. The Bureau of Marine Water Quality Monitoring observed that the turbidity is confined to near-shore areas and would not have a significant impact on the overall health of the bay.
The NJDOT is in the process of installing additional marine mattresses on the bay floor, near where the water drains into the bay. Marine mattresses are stones enclosed in netting designed to minimize this stirring action of silt and sand on the bay floor. The DEP is monitoring this process to ensure the mattresses are effective.
To date, NJDOT has sealed all the pipes and 50 percent of the manhole/pipe connections. The sealing of the entire system is expected to be completed this spring.
Route 35 was severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The $341 million reconstruction project began in the fall of 2013 and had an expedited schedule to complete the massive project as soon as possible to prevent another storm from damaging the already compromised drainage system and highway.
The project includes a new storm-water drainage system designed to handle 25-year storms and features nine pump stations and treatment facilities to filter the storm water prior to discharge into Barnegat Bay.