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EPA Administrator Whitman and NJDEP Commissioner Campbell End Discharges of Sewage from Boats into Barnegat Bay

Release Date: 06/06/2003
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(#03065) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christie Whitman and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell Exit EPA disclaimertoday established a “No Discharge Zone” in New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay, prohibiting boats from releasing treated or untreated sewage into an 85 square nautical-mile area off the coast of Ocean County. Administrator Whitman, Commissioner Campbell, EPA Deputy Regional Administrator William J. Muszynski, Ocean County Freeholder Director John Bartlett, Berkeley Township Mayor Jason Varano and others gathered at Berkeley Island County Park to sign a resolution recognizing the Bay’s environmental, recreational and economic value to New Jersey, and ending what had been one source of bacterial contamination in bay waters.

“Today, we are taking another step in our work to keep Barnegat Bay healthy for the thousands of people who enjoy its beauty and recreational opportunities,” said Administrator Whitman. “We also want it to remain a vibrant habitat for marine life. By making Barnegat Bay a No Discharge Zone, we are keeping harmful bacteria out of the water and protecting important habitats from degradation. I am very pleased that so many partners – all levels of government, businesses and citizen volunteers – have come together to make this designation a reality.”

"Designating Barnegat Bay estuary a No Discharge Zone safeguards public health, protects marine life and supports local shore economies that rely on clean coastal resources," said DEP Commissioner Campbell. "The McGreevey Administration continues to enact long-term measures that protect the state’s ocean waters to ensure that residents and visitors continue to enjoy and have access to New Jersey’s beautiful shoreline. "

Barnegat Bay is a shallow lagoon-type estuary bordered by two barrier islands: Island Beach and Long Beach Island. It provides an important recreational outlet for the people of New Jersey, and supports hard clam and blue crab populations for harvest. Boat sewage in waterbodies like the Bay can lead to health problems for swimmers, closed shellfish beds and the overall degradation of marine habitats.

NJDEP applied to EPA to make Barnegat Bay a No Discharge Zone. In considering the application, EPA took into account the number of pump-out facilities available to receive sewage waste from the 28,000 boats that sail the Bay during the boating season. EPA determined that the Bay’s 66 stationary pump-out facilities (many of which are at marinas) and three pump-out vessels were more than sufficient. Notice of EPA’s tentative approval of the No Discharge Zone appeared in the Federal Register in March 2003, and several public comments were received. Today’s event finalized the No Discharge Zone designation.

“Reducing vessel discharges is one important way to protect our bays, rivers and lakes, but we must all do our part to reduce bacterial contamination in Barnegat Bay,” said Jane M. Kenny, EPA Regional Administrator. “All of us play a role in the pollution that runs-off from our lawns, streets and parking lots. By being mindful of what we put on the ground, our actions as individuals can add up to big benefits for Barnegat Bay and the rest of New Jersey’s scenic waters.”

“Barnegat Bay plays an essential role in the lives of Berkeley Township residents who live, work and recreate along its shores, and I am very pleased to see these clean water protections become a reality,” said Berkeley Township Mayor Jason J. Varano.

Barnegat Bay was added to the National Estuary Program in 1995. A Barnegat Bay Estuary Program was formed shortly thereafter, comprising federal, state, county and local officials, and non-profit and citizen stakeholders. In 2002, the Barnegat Bay Estuary Program completed, and the State of New Jersey and Administrator Whitman approved, a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan to protect and restore the Bay. One of the many goals of the Plan was to establish a No Discharge Zone.

Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program Exit EPA disclaimer