Life’s A Beach, Then They Test the Water Quality

New Jersey has dubious distinction of finishing 14th out of 30 states that monitor beach water

The Jersey Shore may be a hit reality TV show, but its beaches didn’t fare too well when compared with other coastal waters and the Great Lakes.

New Jersey finished 14th out of 30 states that regularly monitor their beaches for water quality, with 5 percent of the samples collected exceeding state bacteria standards, according to a report from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. That’s a worse score than last year, when just 3 percent of the samples failed to comply with standards,

There is some good news: The number of beach closing and advisories dropped 13 percent to 180 days in 2009, compared with 208 the previous year. Still, it is more than double the 79 days of closings recorded in 2005.

Most of the closings were due to high bacteria levels and occurred after heavy rain, when sewer systems cannot handle the overflow of rain, sewage and other debris that wash into streams and rivers.

Point Pleasant in Ocean County had the dubious distinction of having two of the dirtiest beaches in the state with its Maxon Avenue beach exceeding standards 35 percent of the time. River Heights was close behind at 33 percent. But neither could compare with Beachwood Beach’s 51%.