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2016 Highlights for a Cleaner NY-NJ Harbor Estuary

2016 Highlights for a Cleaner NY-NJ Harbor Estuary

2016 Highlights for a Cleaner NY-NJ Harbor Estuary

January 2017

2016 was quite a year!  What struck me most is how individual actions can add up to make a big difference.  For example, you may not think you make a big difference when you call us to pump out waste from your boat rather than dumping it overboard, but together we prevented 32,000 gallons of waste and chemicals going into our local waterways in 2016! And, each time you attend one of our cleanups, you reduce plastic from entering our waterways.

Here are some 2016 highlights for each of our programs that we are especially proud of and grateful for YOUR help!

Drumroll, please…

Advocacy

  • In March, the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) released the final clean up plan (Record of Decision) for the lower eight miles of the Passaic River.  We advocated strongly for the chosen plan, which is estimated to cost $1.38 billion (to be paid by the responsible polluters).
  • The NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) released preliminary drafts of its Tier A and Tier B Stormwater Permit; NY/NJ Baykeeper, with a coalition of environmental groups, petitioned NJDEP to do so in 2014, and kept up pressure. In August, NY/NJ Baykeeper, with a coalition of other environmental groups, reached a settlement with EPA to adopt stronger standards in management of industrial stormwater pollution. In October, NY/NJ Baykeeper (represented by Super Law Group) reached a consent decree with Gaeta Carting, Inc. et al., for violations under the Clean Water Act which had resulted in industrial stormwater pollution flowing into the Kill Van Kull. Now Gaeta must adhere to the terms of a General Permit, implement a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), and pay $5,000 to SWIM Coalition for stormwater improvement projects.
  • Through our participation in Perth Amboy SWIM, a municipal action team advocating for green infrastructure strategies, the first green infrastructure project was installed at the Alameda Center in Perth Amboy by Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program.
  • From June – October, 150 water quality samples were taken along nine sites along the Raritan Bayshore. The samples were tested for pathogens, aka, fecal bacteria. Click here to view the results.
  • We brought a total of 353 people out on the water between kayak tours and Eco Cruises! We introduced a new Eco Cruise in the Shrewsbury River which was a hit!
  • We held 7 creek/beach cleanups in 2016. Thank you to those who got their hands dirty with us!
  • In February, we released a white paper estimating at least 165 million plastic particles are floating within the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary, with almost 40 percent being polystyrene. This was a first look at plastics within our region and has opened many doors for partnerships, funding, and outreach opportunities. This research was featured in The New York Times. Our own Sandra Meola received an Environmental Champion Award from EPA Region 2 for our microplastic work.
  • The NJ Supreme Court denied NJDEP’s petition for certification to appeal the Appellate Division’s decision striking down NJDEP’s unfair public access rules; NY/NJ Baykeeper and Hackensack Riverkeeper brought the successful appeal of the rules
  • The Raritan Slag Superfund site was awarded $7 million for first phase of lead slag removal (due to start Spring 2017).  NY/NJ Baykeeper has served on the Raritan  CAG since its inception 4 years ago.

Conservation

  • We fought and won a fierce battle alongside Sam Pesin at the Friends of Liberty State Park against the Christie Administration’s plans to privatize and commercialize key areas of Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ. In May, the State of NJ announced they would back off on plans after facing vigorous opposition from the Friends of Liberty State Park and the NY/NJ Baykeeper led “Coalition to Save LSP.” Our Deputy Director, Greg Remaud, and Sam Pesin received an award from Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy for their work to protect Liberty State Park. Greg also received an award from the Friends of Holmdel Open Space for achievement in land preservation.
  • Due to fierce opposition from NY/NJ Baykeeper and Friends of Liberty State Park, a proposal was withdrawn that would have created moorings for commercial barges off of Liberty State Park.
  • We supported and helped implement a series of environmental improvement projects, including trail restoration, at Cheesequake State Park, with park staff and volunteers.  

Restoration

  • NJ A3944/2617 was signed into law in January 2016, requiring NJDEP to work with stakeholders, and include a public participation process, to develop new shellfish rules. We’re hoping by working with NJDEP, we will once again be able to install oyster restoration projects throughout all public waters.
  • During the Summer of 2016, our Restoration Team set oyster castles at our reef at Naval Weapons Station Earle, began the second year of a fouling and biodiversity study.
  • In August, we installed the first living shoreline in Raritan Bay using oyster castles set with oyster spat (baby oysters). 50,000 oysters were placed in the water. We’ll be determining if the living shoreline is an effective measure to reduce shoreline erosion in an urban environment.
  • A new partnership between NY/NJ Baykeeper, New York State and SCAPE to monitor data buoys for the innovative “Living Breakwaters” Rebuild by Design project off the south shore of Staten Island.
  • We presented at the Atlantic Estuarine Research Society Conference on work completed by our EcoVolunteers at Soundview Park. One of our student volunteers from New Jersey City University won “Best Undergraduate Student Poster.”

As you can see, what we all do matters, now more than ever, and NY/NJ Baykeeper looks forward to working with you in 2017 for greener, cleaner communities!

Debbie Mans

Baykeeper and Executive Director