Local beaches get high marks for water quality

Visitors cover the beach while enjoying the sun and ocean in Rehoboth Beach, Del. (AP Photo/Stephen Cherry)

June 29, 2011 2:54:07 PM PDT
The nation's beaches have gotten a report card on the quality of their water. As it turns out the best is close by, but it's not in New Jersey.

The good news is, when you jump in the water at the shore this summer, you can swim knowing the water quality in N.J. is the second best in the nation.

"These numbers are impressive, it's realy great to be number two in the nation for clean water last year," said Cindy Zipf of Clean Ocean Action.

? Each year the Natural Resources Defense Council reviews the number of beach and bay closings due to high bacteria levels. New Jersey was down 39% from 2009 with 109 closings. Only New Hampshire had fewer.

? "Now I think people can come here feeling really confident that theyre going in to a really clean ocean," said Marilou Halvorsen of Jenkinson's Boardwalk. "It's also really important to the tourism industry."

? "I'm very pleased and it's always been fine as far as I'm concerned," said Gina Sutton of Bethlehem, Pa. "It's just so gorgeous out there, no pool can compare to that."

? The NRDC gave only four beaches in the entire country "Superstar" status for perfect water test results three years running. Two were in Delaware--Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach.

Environmentalists say the good report card for N.J. is due to last year's lack of rainfall. We've had a lot more rain this year and it's the stormwater runoff that causes problems.

? "The pollution that's flushed into our coastal waters and our bay waters really is not safe," said Doug O'Malley of Environment New Jersey.

? A pilot program in Ocean County this summer will allow for much quicker water testing when a problem is suspected. Now it takes 48 hours.

? "It's a fast method, it can produce results in less than six hours so we can get same-day results," said Heather Saffert of Clean Ocean Action.

? While celebrating the numbers, envirommentalists say the fight for clean water is far from over.?They're calling for controlling development, which they say is the root of shore pollution and the biggest reason for beach closures.