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Mar 27, 2017

World Water Day to Earth Day

By Lori Draz

Clean water is essential to all life, yet we often take its seemingly endless supply for granted. That’s why the United Nations declared March 22 World Water Day. While this is a global event, it is particularly important in our local communities, where so much of our recreation, reflection, and food are linked to the waters that connect us all. Clean Ocean Action (COA) is celebrating by connecting the drops of the storm drains, creeks, streams, and rivers that all flow to the ocean. Along its journey, that water is likely to have traveled many miles and collected the waste from hundreds of sources. The irresponsible or accidental release of pollutants tossed or leached into the waterways can make them unhealthy for wildlife and people. For example, upstream pollution is the major cause of contamination in the Navesink River, which then flows into the sea.

Education about pollution is essential, and Clean Ocean Action is teaming up this March with a variety of partners to inform people about the importance of clean water, from the headwaters to the big blue sea. The public awareness campaign will launch on World Water Day, March 22, and will run, like the drops of water along its journey, culminating on April 22, which is Earth Day and also COA’s statewide Beach Sweeps.

During the month of March, schools throughout the region are invited to participate by viewing videos and programs that will provide information about how pollution flows from waterways to the ocean and how students can help. On March 22, COA will be holding Jersey Shore World Water Day Exploration. This fun and informative event will feature live broadcasts with a panel of experts, scientists, and advocates. Students will be encouraged to call in with questions and share their pollution-reducing ideas. Details are being set, so visit www.CleanOceanAction.org for the latest information.

On March 30, COA is teaming up with Monmouth University’s Urban Coast Institute and a host of environmental leaders for the New Jersey premiere of “A Plastic Ocean,” a new feature-length film that focuses on the tragedy of plastics in the ocean and contains disturbing footage of impacts to wildlife, including death. Following the film, Gary Sondermeyer, vice president of Operations for Bayshore Recycling Family of Companies, will provide a keynote address. Bayshore is a remarkable New Jersey facility that is a recognized national leader in innovation and environmental stewardship and the recipient of numerous national and state awards. Mr. Sondermeyer worked for 30 years at the NJDEP, including leading their Solid Waste and Recycling Program before becoming chief of staff for 10 years.  He currently volunteers with Sustainable Jersey and helped draft the Sustainable Schools initiative. He will discuss the state of plastic recycling in New Jersey and ways to reduce plastic in the ocean with proactive actions for everyone. The event is free, but registration is required. Visit www.CleanOceanAction.org to sign up.

April is Earth Month, and many programs and events will be held in communities and schools. One of the most prominent events is COA’s Beach Sweeps, now in its 32nd year. Volunteers are needed to spend a day removing litter and documenting evidence of pollution. To register for the beach sweep, learn how to host an event in your school or club and be a beach saver, please visit www.CleanOceanAction.org, follow them on Facebook at Clean Ocean Action, email info@cleanoceanaction.org, or call (732) 872-0111.