OCEAN COUNTY – Two Ocean County beaches have been closed to the public due to unsafe bacteria levels. Swimmers should steer clear of the Barnegat Bay side of 25th Street in Barnegat Light as well as Windward Beach in Brick.
According to the state’s Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program, both beaches are closed until further notice as the “sample exceeded water quality standard.”
As of July 25, these are the only two beaches closed in the state. No other beaches have been placed under advisory.
According to Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, beachgoers should expect more closures and advisories due to recent high temperatures and rain.
“We had nearly 100 beach closures and nearly 400 advisories due to dangerous bacteria levels along the shore over the last four years. This is what happens when we roll back environmental protections and fail to control overdevelopment and stormwater, and update our outdated water infrastructure,” stated Tittel.
A release from the New Jersey Sierra Club points a finger at overdevelopment and stormwater runoff as the cause of the increase in cases of contaminated water.
“Protecting our coasts and lakes includes making sure our water is safe to swim in. When it rains, it pours sewage and polluted runoff into our water. Last summer we saw dozens of shore beaches that were closed or under advisory because of high fecal bacteria. This impacts public health and also hurts tourism,” Tittel added.
The Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program outlines the two paths that can be taken when there is an exceedance of the water quality standards.
First is an advisory: “Any initial sample that exceeds the water quality standard requires that the local health agency issue a swimming advisory at the bathing beach where the sample was collected. Swimming Advisories warn the public of potentially unhealthy water conditions. Additional sampling is conducted until water quality results are again within the standard.”
Then, there are closures: “Beaches are closed if two consecutive samples collected at a bathing beach exceed the water quality standard. Beach closings remain in effect until subsequent sampling indicates bacteria levels are again below the standard.”
For information on beach advisories, closures, rip currents, and more, visit njbeaches.org/.