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Barnegat Bay


Organizations Working to Restore the Barnegat Bay

State Action

Municipalities in the Watershed



Barnegat Bay estuary, approximately 42-miles long, is separated from the Atlantic by a long barrier peninsula and the north end of Long Beach Island. The 660-square-mile Barnegat Bay watershed encompasses most of the 33 municipalities in Ocean County and four municipalities in Monmouth County. 
The Bay, a 75-square-mile estuarine system, has aquatic vegetation, shellfish beds, finfish habitats, waterfowl nesting grounds and spectacular vistas. The 550,000 population more than doubles during the summer season.
The ecological health of Barnegat Bay is in decline, threatening the economic health of the region.  Intense development over the past 50 years has degraded the region's delicate habitat and compromised water quality in the shallow bay, where pollution filters out very slowly. The dramatic growth in impervious cover has increased nonpoint source pollution, prevented infiltration to groundwater, and resulted in severe habitat loss, which impacts the estuary’s fisheries and other biological resources. 

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Organizations Working to Restore the Barnegat

The Barnegat Bay Partnership (formerly the Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program) is one of 28 congressionally designated National Estuary Programs in the United States working to improve the health of nationally significant estuaries. The program is sponsored by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and Ocean County College.

Save Barnegat Bay is a not-for-profit environmental group working to conserve undeveloped natural land and clean water throughout the Barnegat watershed. SBB fights imprudent development of the region by reviewing and commenting on development proposals on the local and state levels. SBB also has purchased environmentally sensitive land using Green Acres, foundation, and other funding to permanently protect it as natural open space.

Trust for Public Land has worked to conserve the highly vulnerable land within the Barnegat watershed. TPL's report, Barnegat Bay 2020: A Vision for the Future of Conservation, outlines the future of a rejuvenated watershed by: 1) making a case for land conservation as a water quality protection tool, 2) identifying the highest priority parcels to protect, 3) evaluating land for passive recreational access and use and 4) enhancing the scenic quality of the watershed.

American Littoral Societyempowers people to care for the coast through programs focused on education, advocacy, and conservation. In 2011, ALS received a $1 million Clean Water Grant to tackle stormwater runoff in the Barnegat Bay watershed. The grant supports ALS efforts to clean up polluted stormwater, a major source of water quality problems in the Bay.

The Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve is one of the two national estuarine reserves created to promote the responsible use and management of the nation's estuaries through a program combining scientific research, education, and stewardship. Administered through Rutgers, JC NERR conducts research on the physical, chemical, and biological components of the site estuaries and neighboring watersheds, and has issued the report Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor Estuary: Ecosystem Condition and Recommendations.


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State Action

On December 9, 2010, Governor Christie announced a comprehensive action plan to address the ecological health of Barnegat Bay. The Plan includes passage of legislation, land preservation and resolving the issue of a cooling system at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant.
Closure of the Oyster Creek plant, the oldest operating nuclear generating facility in the nation, will occur no later than December 31, 2019. Exelon, which owns and operates the plant, has pledged to ensure an environmentally safe shutdown of the facility, which currently draws significant amounts of water from the Bay for cooling and then discharges the heated water into the Bay.

The New Jersey Legislature passed five laws to help reduce pollution in Barnegat Bay:

The NJ DEP will also be taking several actions to help Barnegat Bay:

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Municipalities within the Watershed

* Towns with Environmental Commissions

Barnegat Light Borough*
Bay Head Borough*
Beach Haven Borough*
Beachwood Borough*
Berkeley Township*
Brick Township*
Eagleswood Township*
Freehold Township
Harvey Cedars Borough*
Howell Township
Island Heights Borough*
Jackson Township*
Lacey Township*
Lakehurst Borough
Lakewood Township*
Lavallette Borough*
Little Egg Harbor Township*
Long Beach Township*
Manchester Township*
Mantoloking Borough
Millstone Township
Ocean Gate Borough*
Ocean Township*
Pine Beach Borough*
Plumsted Twp*
Point Pleasant Beach Borough*
Point Pleasant *
Seaside Heights Borough*
Seaside Park Borough
Ship Bottom Borough*
South Toms River Borough*
Stafford Township*
Surf City Borough*
Toms River Township*
Tuckerton Borough*
Wall Township

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