Activists Want More Ocean Water Testing

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Belmar. July 3, 2013

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Officials and activists at Belmar news conference push for grants for water testing (photo by Phil Gregory)

Activists in New Jersey are urging Congress to strengthen the Beach Act that requires ocean water testing.

Federal funding was cut for state grants to pay for the tests that detect pollution and determine when beaches should be closed to swimming.

John Weber with the Surfrider Foundation is hoping federal lawmakers will approve $40 million for the program.

“Even if people have never gone to and looked at the actual results, they do have this vague sense that their government is testing and the water is safe and if it’s not it would get posted. We can’t afford to have that all go away. That is going to lead to uncertainty and it’s going to be bad. It’s not going to bring tourists to the beach.”

Debbie Mans is executive director of the New York New Jersey Baykeeper. She’s urging ocean water testing be expanded.

“While the Beach Act is so important for keeping people safe at the Jersey Shore, most of the beaches along the Raritan Bay are not official bathing beaches and therefore not tested at all despite the fact that we know people swim and recreate there.”

Congressman Frank Pallone says it can now take 24 hours for tests results to determine that a beach should be closed to swimmers because of water pollution. He’s urging federal lawmakers to approve a measure to change that.

“What’s in this bill is a provision that says that more rapid testing has to take place that would require that the beaches are closed if you will and then reopened again if it’s improved within six hours. That more rapid testing is available. It should be used.”

Activists are calling for stricter testing standards and an expansion of the program to track down the source of pollution.


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