NEW JERSEY, CONSISTENTLY A national leader in ocean water quality and monitoring, is looking forward to another great beach season, according to New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Acting Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. The shore is the backbone of the state’s $44 billion tourism economy.
“New Jersey has long been a leader in protecting water quality at our beaches because of a strong state and local cooperative monitoring partnership that is second to none in the nation,” explains Acting Commissioner McCabe.
To safeguard water quality and public health, the NJDEP coordinates the Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program, a joint state and local partnership that tests water quality at nearly190 ocean beaches and 31 bay and river beaches across the state throughout the season.
Closures at New Jersey’s beaches are rare, and when they do occur, they are typically related to rainy weather and storm water runoff. Moreover, 97percent of the nearly 3,400 water samples collected during the 2017 season met the state’s recreational bathing standard.
Coastal surveillance flights that operate six days per week from mid-May to mid-September have resumed as part of the overall water-quality protection effort. Weather permitting, trained NJDEP staff use these flights to look for excessive algae blooms or debris that might affect water quality.
Under the Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program started in 1974, New Jersey requires that water samples not exceed 104 colonies of Enterococci bacteria per 100 milliliters. The local health agency issues a swimming advisory if an initial sample exceeds the state standard. Beaches are closed if the affected beach continues to exceed the standard during testing the following day. Closings remain in effect until subsequent sampling indicates levels again meet the standard.
Advisories and closings are rare, generally occurring after heavy rain storms that can carry bacteria in wastes from gulls, geese and other birds into affected waters. Bay and river beaches that do not have good natural circulation are more likely to experience closures.
Funding for the state’s coastal monitoring program comes from the USEPA’s Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act grant program, as well as a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the “Shore to Please” motor vehicle license plates.
Visitors can get up-to-date information on all water sampling and any incidents by visiting njbeaches.org.
Gov. Phil Murphy Puts His Stamp on NJ’sEnvironmental Priorities
Governor Phil Murphy signed an Executive Order directing the NJDEP, with support from other state agencies, to develop guidance on how all state departments can incorporate environmental justice considerations into their actions. Environmental justice touches a wide variety of issues related to quality of life, including housing, health and transportation. Low-income communities in New Jersey and across the country often bear the brunt of pollution and the impacts of climate change.
Other environmental actions Governor Murphy has taken include signing bipartisan legislation banning offshore oil and gas exploration in New Jersey waters; signing an executiveorder directing BPU to work with other departments to fully implement the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act and setting a goal for New Jersey to achieve 3,500 MW of offshore wind generation by 2030; signing an executive order directing the NJDEP and the BPU to begin taking the necessary steps for New Jersey to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI); join-ing with 16 states by entering the U.S. Climate Alliance with a pledge to cut carbon emissions to at least 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025; and joining with several other states to support a ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin.
NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney Applauds Grasslands Preservation
The New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service are preserving nearly 375 acres of grasslands surrounding the iconic Cowtown Rodeo in Pilesgrove Township, New Jersey. The newly preserved land is the first grassland easement of its kind in New Jersey and will be used for grazing and breeding horses and cattle.
The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program for Grasslands of Special Environmental Significance is a farmland preservation easement program established by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill. This special farm-land preservation mechanism permanently protects farmland that is used as grazing land while, at the same time, providing important habitat for many species of grassland-nesting and migratory birds.
Approximately $2.1 million of the $2.6 million cost to preserve the land came from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. About 11 percent came from Grant Harris, who runs and owns the rodeo. Other vital partners who provided additional funding and assistance to ensure this grassland remained protected from potential development include the William Penn Foundation, Open Space Institute, Pilesgrove Township, Natural Lands and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“This federal grassland preservation project, the first in our state, was an incredible accomplishment and I’m truly thankful for all those who assisted in this undertaking,” says Senate President Steve Sweeney. “Their efforts will allow us to preserve more land than ever before and more importantly, preserve the traditions that make this community our home.”
In addition, the preservation of this grassland will enable Grant Harris and his family, which has owned the land and rodeo for five generations, to continue America’s oldest weekly professional rodeo. It will begin its 64th consecutive season this year.
At 36,900 acres spanning 11 municipalities, Salem County has more farmland preserved than any other county in New Jersey.
Leveraging Brownfields Funding to Bolster Water Infrastructure Loans
The Brownfields Program targets communities that are economically disadvantaged and provides funding and assistance to transform blighted sites into assets that can generate jobs and spur economic growth. A study analyzing 48brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments in a single year after cleanup. This is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million the USEPA contributed to the cleanup of these brownfield sites. Furthermore, another study found that property values of homes located near brownfields sites that are cleaned up increased between five and15 percent after cleanup.
In addition, communities can use Brownfields funding to leverage water infrastructure loans and other financial resources. For example, the USEPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund can be used, under certain conditions, to address the water quality aspects of brownfield sites and the assessment and construction of drinking water infrastructure on brownfields, respectively. The USEPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program may also serve as a potential source of long-term, low-cost supplemental financing to fund brownfields project development and implementation activities to address water quality aspects of brownfields.
Camden to Receive $400,000 in USEPA Brownfield Grants
Camden, New Jersey, was among 144 communities selected for Brownfields Environmental Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup grants. The two grants totaling $400,000 will provide the community with funding to assess, clean up and redevelop underutilized properties while protecting public health and the environment. A total of$54.3 million will be provided to brownfields sites nationwide.
The first $200,000 grant will be used to clean up a parcel of property at 726Kaighn Avenue, a former electroplating facility that ceased operations in 2004.For many years, the property and building have been abandoned. Trespassers have entered and, at times, occupied, the building, which contained harmful contaminants. In 2011, the USEPA removed over 80 containers of acids, metals, cyanide, ammonia and sodium hydroxide. Plans for future redevelopment at this site include an industrial park to bring manufacturing jobs back to the city.
The other $200,000 grant will be used to clean up the Camden Laboratories site at 1667 Davis Street, which has been vacant since 2008. Groundwater at the3.9-acre site is contaminated with chlorinated solvents. The soil is contaminated with mercury, remnants from the site’s history as a hospital and medical bio-tech facility. The City of Camden plans to redevelop the site into an extension of the adjoining Whitman Park. This type of development would improve the property values of the neighborhood, add much needed recreation space, and allow for the addition of green storm water infrastructure.
Glass Recycling Facility Coming to Andover, NJ
Finished glass—a non-toxic and vastly recyclable scrap glass known as cullet—is a key production ingredient added to many raw materials. Some standard glass production uses more than 45 percent recycled, post-consumer content, but specialized production can ramp this up to 100 percent. Pace Glass has found ways to recycle glass that most others cannot, such as colored or dirty glass. The firm recently held a groundbreaking for a new glass recycling facility—expected to be the world’s largest—in Andover, New Jersey.
“Recycling and solid waste management is a private industry, and now municipalities must dictate strict diversion rates and policies to increase recycling,” explains Pace Glass CEO George Valiotis. “The existing companies are having a hard time adapting. Pace Glass is the place for cities and towns to send whatever they can’t recycle, and we will find a market for it.”
Recycling as an industry is having serious problems due to the heavy dependence on importing recyclable commodities from China for the past three decades, and not finding domestic markets for them. China recently banned many types of solid waste and recyclable material to be imported to China, creating an end market problem that large recycling companies were not prepared for.
“Working extensively with our biggest customers—Ardagh Group and Owens-Illinois, and Anchor Glass—recycling to meet their demand, as opposed to whatever material is available, is the key to being successful in the glass recycling industry,” says Valiotis. “Our Andover facility is centrally located and will allow every city and town in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire to divert recyclable material from landfills to our facility. This option is not available right now, and local landfills are close to capacity—creating a very big problem for all major cities.”