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Barnegat Bay Estuary Signing Ceremony, Beachwood, New Jersey

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
at the
Barnegat Bay Estuary Signing Ceremony
Berkeley Island County Park, New Jersey

June 6, 2003

Thank you Bill (Musyznski) for that introduction. It = s great to be here today on the shores of one of New Jersey = s most important natural resources B the Barnegat Bay Estuary.

One of the great things about coming home to New Jersey is that I = ll soon have more time to spend at scenic spots such as this within our great state. Indeed, thousands of people live around and visit Barnegat each year to enjoy the beauty of this area and the many boating and other recreational activities that are available. Barnegat Bay is not only an important tourist destination, it is also a vibrant habitat for marine life.

Every year Barnegat Bay contributes $4 billion to New Jersey's economy, so it follows that to maintain a strong shore economy it is imperative that the Bay remain healthy. With this in mind, during my time as Governor, I requested that the Barnegat Bay Estuary be included in EPA = s National Estuary program B a program designed specifically to protect our nation = s most important estuaries.

Since joining the National Estuary Program in 1995, a dedicated group of stakeholders, representing government, business, community and environmental groups, have worked together to protect these vital waters.

EPA has invested over $3 million in this important effort B funding which has been used to develop a comprehensive management plan, study crab and clam populations, and support local efforts to improve the Bay. I = m pleased to announce that for the current fiscal year, EPA will be giving an additional $506,000 to the Barnegat Bay Program to support these and other efforts to preserve and promote the health of this valuable economic and environmental resource.

Today, we are signing a resolution that represents another step in our work to keep the Bay healthy. By designating the Bay as a A no-discharge zone, @ the practice of releasing treated sewage into these waters will come to an end. With over 66 pump-out facilities and three pump-out boats B one of which, the Circle of Life, is docked right behind me B there are ample resources to support this new designation and ensure that boat traffic within the Bay has the ability to dispose of their waste. While making the Bay a A no-discharge zone @ will play an important role in keeping bacteria out of the waters and protecting marine habitats from degradation, it is important to note that it is not just boat sewage that threatens the health of the Bay.

Indeed, the greatest threat to America's waterways today comes, not from pollution dumped into them directly, but from pollution that runs-off into them B non-point source pollution. Countless small acts, such as changing your oil in your driveway without cleaning up leaks or over-fertilizing your yard can add up to big problems. In fact, every eight months, non-point sources discharge as much oil into America's coastal waters as did the Exxon Valdez spill.

That is why it = s important that we educate communities and citizens about the ways even small, individual actions can add up to big environmental consequences. Here in the Barnegat Bay Estuary, you are working to do just that by funding public outreach and education activities and by ensuring that in focusing on the health of the Bay, you also address the health of the entire watershed in which it is located.

As all of you know first hand, the water quality challenges we face in the 21 st century are beyond the ability of any one organization or agency to solve. President Bush and I believe that public-private partnerships are an essential tool to meeting those challenges.

I want to thank the Barnegat Bay Estuary program, local government, and all the volunteers who have risen to the challenge of protecting these waters. By working together, we can ensure that Barnegat Bay remains a beautiful destination for our children and grandchildren to enjoy in the years to come. Thank you.