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E. Coli Poop-ulates Shark River Waters

In 2014, The Natural Resources Defense Council rated New Jersey third worst out of 30 states for beach-water quality, based on water testing last year. The group reported that 3 percent of water samples from New Jersey exceeded national Beach Action “value” for designated swimming areas in 2013. That value is defined as 60 enterococcus bacteria colony forming units per 100 milliliters of marine water.

The Shark River Beach and Yacht Club beach, located on South Riverside Drive in Shark River Hills, across the river from Belmar, was ranked as the second most polluted beach in the state. A total of 20 percent of 20 water samples taken in 2012 tested high for bacteria; any rainfall in excess of 1 inch causes the beach to be closed. This small beach is along the Shark River, across from Belmar.

Additionally, Memorial Park Beach in Neptune City has been closed for over 25 years due to high bacteria counts and the L Street Beach in Belmar is closed when it rains more than .1 of an inch, due to high bacteria counts. Both of these beaches border the Shark River. That makes three beaches in different spots along Shark River with readings above accepted levels. That should raise some questions!!

The primary pollutants in the Shark River are E. coli bacteria, sediment particles, and fertilizer. In the case of swimmers, the DEP estimates on the current bacterial exceedance for human health standards is that a minimum of 37 out of 1000 people exposed to these waters will get an eye, ear, throat, nose or other infections caused by staph and strep pathogens as well as a chance of hepatitis and viral diseases. Also, due to excessive pollutants, the water is condemned for harvesting shellfish from the Shark River inlet unless a special permit from the State Department of Environmental Protection is granted for purification of the shellfish.

Would you want to swim,fish, or crab in it?

Among the potential health effects of swimming in polluted water are stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, respiratory infections, meningitis and hepatitis. Stormwater runoff and sewage overflows are most often the cause of bacterial contamination of water. This can be the result of overdevelopment and too much impervious surface, as well as faulty outfall pipes.
Neptune City is working on a plan to remediate the area near Memorial Park beach, where a large outfall pipe is located. With a newly constructed boardwalk, and sand replenishment along the beachfront area, it would be wonderful to restore this beach to be open for swimmers again. Despite the obvious health concerns, visitors who are not aware of the potential pollutants in the water regularly enter the waters at Memorial Park, exposing themselves to the above health hazards.

Since water monitoring no longer takes place at SRBYC, we cannot say with any certainty what level of e. coli exists at any given time. However with increased sedimentation since Sandy, and no dredging occurring as of now to remediate some of the pollutants, those who frequent the river should exercise caution, especially when submerging below the ears, nose, and throat.
The Navesink River is experiencing an exceedance of e.coli in its waterway. Boat owners and homeowners there have banded together to call for an action plan after a report by Clean Ocean Action raised awareness. We need to keep the ‘poop” out of our river too!

For further information on water monitoring practices, closings, and advisories, click on the following link:

For information on the Navesink River Pollution article(s) click here: