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May 02, 2017

Better Water for All with Clean Ocean Action

By Lori Draz

For many in our area, May signifies the return to the water, as summer boaters launch, beaches fill, fisherman search for bounty, picnickers unpack lunches, and we all take time to appreciate the unique beauty of our rivers and shores.    All the while, Clean Ocean Action continues their work to ensure the improvement of the health of the waterways.

Navesink 2020 Goal

In June 2016, Clean Ocean Action (COA) launched a coalition initiative, “Rally for the Navesink,” to address the water quality degradation in the Navesink due to nonpoint source pollution – specifically, pathogens from storm water runoff – with the goal of restoring the degraded areas by 2020. To achieve this record-setting goal, COA advocates a “No Blame-Game, Find It – Fix It” approach for reducing  watershed pollution problems, along with educating and engaging local communities, local town officials, businesses, citizens, schools, and any other interested groups.

Their many activities included successful canine scent-tracking studies to detect “hot spots,” or priority areas, of human wastewater contamination, thanks to Environmental Canine Services from Maine along with various stakeholders, including municipalities and the NJDEP. The scent-tracking studies by the dogs were very impactful, and COA’s staff, Dr. Swarna Muthukrishnan and Zach Lees, Esq., shared these findings with an appreciative audience at the recently concluded 28th Annual Nonpoint Source Pollution Conference in Northampton, MA.

In continuation with the Rally’s efforts to “Find It– Fix It,” NJDEP, COA, and Navesink River Municipalities Committee are launching a more thorough fecal source tracking of the Navesink watershed through a year-long citizen water sampling program. Samples will be collected by citizens at selected sites on a weekly basis. The citizen science water quality monitoring program is an important and serious task that will help the NJDEP find more sources and work more quickly toward faster reduction strategies. Plus, it is a great way for people to learn about the environment and get involved in making a difference.

What Can You Do? Take the First Five Challenge

In addition, the Rally for the Navesink will continue to educate the community about watershed mindfulness to protect the river. Everyone has a connection to and plays a role in the health of the river. Learn your water address, how water gets from your house to the ocean, and take Clean Ocean Action’s First Five Challenge for the Navesink. These are the first five steps that towns, schools, citizens, and businesses need to take to improve the watershed and create a cleaner and healthier river by 2020. These five steps, plus more in the near future, can be found by going to the “Rally for the Navesink” Facebook page and on the Clean Ocean Action website, www.cleanoceanaction.org.