DEP OPENS NEW MARINE
WATER QUALITY MONITORING CENTER
Ceremony Coincides with Opening of Additional Shellfish
Beds for Harvesting
(03/86) TRENTON Department
of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M.
Campbell today officially opened new offices and laboratories
for the state's Marine Water Monitoring Program in Leeds
Point, Atlantic County. The facilities will allow DEP to
provide continuous marine water quality data to the public
and to test shellfish routinely for contaminants.
"DEP's monitoring of New Jersey's
shellfish growing waters not only protects the public from
shellfish diseases, but also serves as an environmental
yardstick by which we can measure the progress of pollution
abatement programs," said Commissioner Campbell. "These
new facilities will ensure that New Jersey remains a worldwide
leader in the shellfish industry and in protecting its fragile
This facility will be part of DEP's network
of 2,500 monitors that routinely samples marine waters ensuring
that shellfish are harvested from clean waters. The new
laboratory is outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment
including an atomic absorption spectrophotometer to test
shellfish for metals, including mercury, arsenic, lead,
cadmium, chromium and nickel.
New Jersey's shellfish industry is a critical
part of the coastal economy with a dockside value of $79
million per year.
In addition to shellfish testing, the facility
also will compile continuous, real-time water quality data,
using new monitoring equipment. Solar-powered sensors located
in four coastal buoys will gather data on water temperature,
salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity and chlorophyll.
The data will soon be available in real time on the DEP
web site at http://www.nj.gov/dep.
"Now that we are able to better monitor
our coastal waters, we will be better prepared to investigate
persistent problems such as harmful algae blooms and sudden
drops in dissolved oxygen, both of which can damage New
Jersey's aquatic ecosystem," Campbell said.
The new, larger facilities also provide
space for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) equipment
that will improve the state's response to contaminant spills,
helping DEP track the spills and determine what areas need
to be closed.
The US Environmental Protection Agency
provided a $300,000 grant to support the purchase of state
of the art equipment to upgrade the facility.
The dedication of the Leeds Point facility
coincides with the opening of additional harvesting waters,
a benefit of New Jersey's continued commitment to improved
marine water quality.
On Monday, June 16, the reclassification
and upgrade of 3,889 acres of shellfish waters took effect,
marking the 15th consecutive year that New Jersey has upgraded
more beds for harvest than it downgraded. With this latest
reclassification, 90 percent of New Jersey's shellfish beds
are now open for harvest.
The newly opened beds include 3,695 acres
in the Atlantic Ocean off Monmouth County. DEP previously
allowed shellfishing on the remaining 194 acres but has
now upgraded the waters, lengthening the harvesting season.
These areas include Manahawkin Bay (133 acres), Tuckerton
Cove (45 acres) and Strathmere (16 acres).