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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION NEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: 11/20/00
/00
CONTACT: Loretta O'Donnell or Amy Collings
(609) 984-1795 or 292-2994

CLEANER WATER RESULTS IN THE UPGRADE OF 6,848 ACRES OF SHELLFISH WATERS

State Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Shinn today announced that 6,848 additional acres of state waters soon will be open for shellfish harvesting, marking the 13th consecutive year that continuing improvement in water quality has allowed expansion of areas where shellfish may be safely taken.

"The continued expansion of our shellfish harvesting waters is a clear and reliable yardstick of our progress in improving water quality. These openings are the result of combined efforts to upgrade wastewater treatment plant operations and reduce nonpoint source pollution," Shinn said during a ceremony at the Riverfront Landing Park on the Barnegat Bay in Toms River.

The proposed reclassification will bring the total acreage available for shellfishing to 592,222, or 87.9 percent of the state's coastal waters, Shinn noted.

"This is good news for New Jerseyans," said Gov. Christie Whitman. "It's another indication that our water is cleaner - there will be 13,750 more harvestable acres in 2001 than in 1994. Our clean ocean water is another reason why New Jersey is a great place to live, work and raise a family."

The areas to be upgraded are: 5,132 acres in Barnegat Bay, 1,294 acres in the Atlantic Ocean off of Atlantic City, and 422 acres in the Shrewsbury River. (insert some reasons why water quality has improved)

The Shrewsbury River, along with Monmouth County's three other rivers, - the Shark, Manasquan and Navesink - have been approved by DEP and EPA for No Discharge Zones for boat sewage. DEP approved No Discharge Zone applications this year for Barnegat Bay and the Hudson River which are awaiting EPA final approval.

"New Jersey is the only state in the 24-state Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference that has consistently had more waters upgraded than downgraded each year for the past 13 years," Shinn said. "The continued upgrade is particularly remarkable considering that population growth has been steady in the state's coastal counties during this time."

New Jersey has the highest amount of shellfish acreage in the nation and harvests the most shellfish, more than 75 million pounds each year. (more) add 1, shellfish

Other ongoing clean water initiatives include the watershed management program to establish regional plans to control nonpoint source pollution, such as runoff from development and agriculture, by working with local organizations. DEP also is working with municipalities and the Environmental Infrastructure Trust to replace combined sewers in older towns and reduce stormwater overflows. New Jersey has one of the most advanced ocean monitoring programs in the nation and has reduced the number of beach closings over the years due to improved water quality.

Three shellfish harvesting areas are being downgraded in Barnegat Bay, totaling 280 acres. This is due to unknown sources of nonpoint pollution.

DEP is accepting public comment on the proposed reclassification, which will be published in the Dec.18 NJ Register. The proposal is scheduled to take effect March 5, 2001.

Maps showing the reclassified areas may be viewed on DEP's web page at: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/watershedmgt/bmw/index.html. (Check under its "News" link.)

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