Come On In! The Water’s Great!

7 Jun


I remember back in the 80’s when occasionally a barge out of New York would dump some garbage off the coast of New Jersey and the beaches would be littered with debris and then closed until all of the hazardous materials or waste could be cleaned up or would wash back out to sea.

And as a long time resident of Ocean County, NJ I can also remember how the Toms River Chemical Company AKA Ciba-Geigy Corp., built and operated a 10 mile pipeline from Toms River to Ortley Beach which they used to dump toxic chemical wastes into the ocean for over 25 years.

All of this was of course investigated by various state and federal regulatory and legislative agencies and after exhaustive (and expensive) study it was eventually revealed that the private companies… and the government agencies… knew exactly what was going on from the get go.

So it comes as no surprise but with also a bit of skepticism when I read today that “local and state governments have announced that ocean and beach water quality tests this winter and spring have shown good results, with few exceptions”…despite the fact that various contractors have had to remove more than 40,000 cubic yards of debris from bays and other waterways so far. (That’s more than 2,600 dump trucks holding 15 cubic yards apiece)

Also more than 70 vessels and vehicles have been removed from waterways, and over 5.1 billion gallons of either partially treated or untreated sewage was carried into the bays and oceans, streams and rivers of NJ by Hurricane Sandy…and that’s according to a Princeton based research group…and that’s not even including the fertilizers and chemicals and who-knows-what-all…plus entire homes and small communities, that were carried into our lagoons and waterways also.

And of course no environmental report would be a good report without the caveat that the long-term impact of  things like raw sewage, fertilizer and chemicals (and most of whatever was in the basements of every home on the barrier islands), that washed into the water during Sandy… is unclear.

But according to the DEP, last week all ocean beaches passed water quality tests. However, along with that good news the DEP also added that debris may still be found in the ocean and bays and people who spot it should immediately contact a lifeguard and that it would always be a good idea to have a heightened sense of awareness when swimming this season at the Jersey Shore

So after all is said and done  it is summertime, so don’t be shy. Come and enjoy the sun and the fun and the boardwalks and the beaches. Just tread carefully, keep your eyes open when entering the surf, and  trust your own senses…and just because we are all older and wiser now and perhaps a bit more jaded… always remember to take everything you hear from a government agency… with a grain of salt water.

10 Responses to “Come On In! The Water’s Great!”

  1. mvschulze June 8, 2013 at 12:51 am #

    It is hard to imagine the items mentioned in paragraph 5 and 6 are not going to someway show impact on Barnegat Bay this summer….but I like the optimism. What we find, see, smell and feel this boating season will tell.
    The photo is stunning, I love the contrasting colors, and impression of purity!

  2. ontyrepassages June 8, 2013 at 1:38 am #

    I think I’ll pass. I burn easy and it’s an 1,100 mile walk to the closest ocean beach. Having grown up near the ocean (Long Island) it’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since I’ve seen it. Wow.

  3. reocochran June 8, 2013 at 2:59 am #

    Sad how it is still an issue with so much environmentally concerned citizens. Lake Erie was a mess recently but I think that was a storm. There were reports of cyanide being dumped but later found it was a one year anniversary. Take care, Robin

  4. momshieb June 8, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    Man, this post made me sad! I can’t wait to get to the beach this summer (Mass, not Jersey, but close enough). No matter what I know is in there, a dunk in the ocean always makes me feel purified.

  5. Elizabeth R June 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    Such nostalgia! In the 50’s I spent every summer in Seaside Park, and a daily ritual was getting the beach tar off our feet with kerosene – the tar left behind as a result of sunken WWII shipping. Then in the 80’s we returned with our sons, and had to deal with hypodermic needles and other hazards. But the shore and the ocean always rebound (hopefully humans will help) – and Seaside Park will always be
    my favorite place in the world.

  6. avwalters June 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    I became an environmental believer as a kid, when the Cayahoga River caught fire. Things are better now, but things like Sandy can surely upset the regular balance. As for the rest of it…..constant vigilance, we must keep our ears and eyes open to defend the planet and our resources. We need to remain informed about food and water issues. If not us, who? Government? (stripped down and under constant assault) Corporations? Yeah, right.

  7. smilecalm June 8, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    …yet still the image shows a beautiful sky and sea

  8. hafong June 8, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

    My partner and I spent part of one winter gathering shoes washed ashore on the Gulf of Guinea in Ghana. We made footsteps with all the shoes on the beach. There was a lot of shoes. People should respect the ocean
    more and not toss in their garbage willy nilly.

  9. heavenhappens June 9, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

    Bit of a mixed message there from the agency!

  10. pammax64 June 9, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

    I remember the hypodermic needles washing up on the shore! It was horrible!

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