Home Shore Environment N.J. to Invest $20M on Barnegat Bay Health, Set ‘TMDL’

N.J. to Invest $20M on Barnegat Bay Health, Set ‘TMDL’

Boating on Barnegat Bay. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Boating on Barnegat Bay. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

A plan to improve the health of Barnegat Bay by state officials included a portion long-sought by environmentalists looking to limit the amount of runoff and pollutants enter the estuary.

Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday the state would spend $20 million on various projects to protect and improve the health of the waterway, which has come under threat from overdevelopment in recent decades. A key part of the action plan is the development of a total maximum daily load, shortened to TMDL, standard to reduce the nutrients going into the impaired areas in the northern section of the bay.

The TMDL program is part of the federal Clean Water Act, and allows states to receive federal funding toward creating a scientifically-sound plan to identify how much pollution, runoff and other materials are entering a waterway, then calculating the maximum amount of pollution the waterway can handle and still support its assigned uses. Establishing such a plan also requires that both governmental agencies and private sector partners develop plans to reduce pollution, including both mandated and voluntary policies.


Funding for the projects is coming from Natural Resource Damage settlements, proceeds from the state’s Corporation Business Tax, the State Revolving Fund for infrastructure improvements, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act watershed restoration program, and other sources, officials said.

A good portion of the funding “will largely go directly to local governments and nonprofit organizations that will continue to do the work of restoring Barnegat Bay,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin.

Plans for the funding include: 

  • Working with municipalities and other stakeholders to establish a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) standard for nutrients that would be incorporated into stormwater discharge permits in impaired areas, especially in the northern third of the Bay;
  • Developing a watershed restoration plan for the Toms River basin as well as watershed restoration plans for key tributaries, including Tuckerton Creek, Westecunk Creek, Mill Creek, Oyster Creek, Forked River and Cedar Creek;
  • Continuing to implement enhancement projects for the Metedeconk Creek watershed;
  • Continuing to educate municipalities, marinas, homeowners’ associations and waterfront property owners on controlling sea nettles by periodically power-washing or scrubbing nettle polyps from bulkheads, docks and other structures;
  • Working with municipalities and other stakeholders to establish a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) standard for nutrients that would be incorporated into stormwater discharge permits in 18 of the watershed’s 37 municipalities;
  • Identifying and inventorying stormwater basins and outfalls needing upgrades;
  • Developing and implementing a stewardship program that engages municipalities, schools, golf courses and residents in local projects that protect bay resources;
  • Implementing projects to restore submerged aquatic vegetation, which provides critical habitat to many aquatic species as well as spawning, nursery and feeding areas for fish;
  • Implementing biological monitoring prior to the decommissioning of the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Lacey Township, as well as monitoring after the facility closes to assess the effects of eliminating discharges of cooling water;
  • Continuing to conduct long-term water quality monitoring in the bay and its tributaries;
  • Preserving and restoring wetlands to reduce nutrient pollution and provide flood protection;
  • Implementing a Toms River-area specific pilot study into the effectiveness of the state’s fertilizer law at reducing nutrient impacts; and
  • Exploring the feasibility of expanding Ecologically Sensitive Areas to reduce boating impacts on sensitive ecosystems.

  • Mort

    Major “Funding for the projects is coming from Natural Resource Damage settlements…”

    Too bad Christie gave a huuuuuge break to his pals at Exxon and settled their environmental damage penalty for a few pennies on the dollar! A lot more money would have been available to save Barnegat Bay.

  • Andy Pat

    Just don’t expect results in your lifetime. Stopping the source of pollution IS a worthy cause. What took so long?

  • Surfrider

    Christie trying to do some stuff to raise his deplorable rating….Good thing, except with the money back into the municipalities, who knows where the money will wind up due to the secrecy of it all….A lot of the damage comes from the marine operators of the bay, not obeying most of the rules of navigation, wave runners blasting into the river feeds which is ridiculous, boaters not obeying slow speed no wake buoys, churning up shallows which support the bay with eel grass, lots of reasons for the demise of the bay, which has been going on for some 40 years now. Just simply put, too many users of a precious small resource……

  • Andy Pat

    Also keep in mind, Christie did little on the environmental protection front while Obama was president and we had an environment friendly EPA. Now he takes action (dependent on federal funding) while Trump has put an enemy of the environment in charge of the EPA and guts the Clean Water Act. Christie’s timing is an insult!! But then again that is his forte.

  • Let’s Roll

    Chris Christie is now heading a “Save the Whales” campaign.

  • Nan

    I am an apologist for no one. The problem is ignorant people who do not have the means to inform themselves as to how government actually works. At present it is the Democrats who are in my perception crucifying me on the altar of the Democratic Club and Party. That is if you do not know my reality.