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  Bureau of Environmental Analysis, Restoration and Standards

NJDEP Citizen Science Water Monitoring Projects

photo credit: MATES

photo credit: BTMUA

photo credit: BTMUA

photo credit: NJDEP

Barnegat Bay Sampling Program

In 2010, the Governor's Action Plan to restore the health of Barnegat Bay was announced (see The Action Plan identified goals for addressing the key actions needed to restore water quality, several of which required additional water quality monitoring data. A monitoring plan was designed to determine the extent of the impairment, identify nutrient loading targets or numeric criteria, and develop models for use in directing water quality restoration of the Bay. The sampling plan currently involves twice-a-month, synoptic grab sampling and flow measurements at 14 tributary and 14 bay stations. This comprehensive design exceeded the sampling and analytical capacity of NJDEP's water monitoring program so, to accomplish the plan, a consortium of dedicated partners was developed, starting with members of the State monitoring community represented on the NJ Water Monitoring Council. Current monitoring partners include: the federal government, water and wastewater utilities, academia, the national estuary program partnership, the county health department, a regional commission, and a technical high school. Additional information is available on the Department's website at

Holiday City Project

Holiday City – Adult Community Engagement in the Barnegat Bay Watershed

The NJDEP and the Barnegat Bay Partnership (BBP) and other key partners teamed up to address water quality issues within the watershed by educating and engaging the communities in storm water management practices to reduce non-point source pollution and nutrient loading. Holiday City Berkeley is a highly populated senior community along tributaries of the Toms River in Berkeley Township, Ocean County. Stormwater from this Holiday City development drains into the tributaries of the Toms River and carries fertilizer and other non-point source pollution with it.

Homeowners within this community will invited to education sessions about nutrient inputs, impacts the nutrients have on the waterways, and ways homeowners can reduce these sources. Participants will be encouraged to attend workshops on rain barrels, rain gardens, and other methods for capturing rainwater; soil health; benefits of replacing lawn areas with native plants; and best practices for lawn care. Other actions include identifying and modify local ordinances relating to lawn watering requirements, and improving recycling coordination.

photo credit: NJDEP

Long Swamp Creek Project

Citizen Water Quality Monitoring on the Long Swamp Creek in the Barnegat Bay Watershed

The Long Swamp Creek, a tributary of the Toms River, lies within a heavily developed area of the Barnegat Bay watershed. With NJDEP 319(h) funding a watershed management plan (Strategic Water Quality Improvement Plan for Surface Water Quality improvements of the Long Swamp Creek Watershed) was developed in 2003 and approved in 2006. The office of the Barnegat Bay Partnership (BBP) is located in Brown’s Woods Preserve, a Green Acres property in Toms River Township, where the lower section of the Long Swamp Creek (including the outlet to the Toms River) is located.

NJDEP is establishing a citizen science water quality monitoring program of Long Swamp creek. Volunteers will be trained to perform visual, biological, and chemical assessments. Monitoring sites will be located within Brown’s Woods Preserve and at other upstream locations and chosen based on safe access, property owner permission and usefulness of data. Data will be used by the BBP and NJDEP to establish baseline water quality and watershed conditions, monitoring changes, and develop watershed management recommendations to improve Long Swamp Creek.

photo credit: NJDEP

Statewide Summer Pathogens Sampling Program

An important goal of the federal Clean Water Act is to protect and restore waters for swimming, and other activities deemed “primary contact recreation.” To assess if recreational water criteria are being met extensive sampling is conducted using pathogen (Escherichia coli) concentration, water temperature readings, and observations on recent precipitation. 5 water samples are collected within a 30-day period between the months of May and September. Monitoring is focused regionally, with one Water Region covered each sampling year.

Because of the intensity of the sampling and the holding time associated with pathogen sampling, NJDEP enlisted the help of the Raritan Headwaters Association, the Great Swamp Watershed Association, and the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association. The Watershed Association staff and/or volunteers receive training on proper techniques for sample collection and completing paperwork. Then volunteers are given bottles, thermometers, and paperwork, and assigned sites where they are responsible for collecting samples, weekly, for 5 consecutive weeks on designated dates. Once collected, the samples are taken to their watershed office. Besides the collection of the bacti sample, a water temperature reading is made. A NJDEP courier picks up the samples at this location and transports it to NJDOH laboratory for analysis, meeting the 8-hour holding time.

photo credit: NJDEP

For more information, please contact Kimberly Cenno, Bureau Chief,
Bureau of Environmental Analysis, Restoration and Standards at (609) 633-1441.

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Last Updated: May 16, 2019