Ocean County Press Release

TOMS RIVER – Ocean County's ongoing efforts to protect Barnegat Bay include key components of the Barnegat Bay Partnerships work plan.

"Protecting and preserving Barnegat Bay continues to be a priority for the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. "We work in cooperation with the Partnership to make certain the bay is guarded."

Vicari, who serves as Board liaison to the Barnegat Bay Partnership and also to the county's tourism industry, noted it's a delicate balance that needs to be maintained between recreational use of the bay and the need to protect the bay's ecosystem.

"We work with the Partnership in areas like supporting land acquisition and reducing the boating impacts on the bay," Vicari said. "But we want our residents and visitors to be able to enjoy the bay's beauty and the recreational opportunities it provides."

Ocean County, through the Ocean County Natural Lands Program and Ocean County College, provides the annual matching funds required for the Partnership's grant. More than $681,000 matching funds has been provided for 2017.

"In addition to providing funding, we take great pride in such programs as the Ocean County Natural Lands program and our pumpout boat program – both of which serve as guardians of the bay" Vicari said.
Ocean County has preserved about 20,000 acres under its Natural Lands and Farmland Preservation Program. In addition, the County is getting ready to kick off its 20th season of its pumpout boat program beginning Memorial Day weekend.

"This program is embraced by our boaters and does an outstanding job in keeping wastewater out of Barnegat Bay and its tributaries," Vicari said.

Since 1997, more than 70,000 recreational boats have used the free service and more than 1.4 million gallons of effluent have been disposed of properly.

The pumpout boat program partners include Brick Township, the Tuckerton Seaport and Baymen's Museum, Seaside Park, and the Ocean County Utilities Authority.

"With their ongoing cooperation, this program has been recognized statewide for its outstanding performance in protecting the environment," Vicari said. "Seaside Park and the OCUA has been part of the program from the start. We appreciate all the agencies that have made this such a successful effort."

"This program has been a great partnership with the state, our municipalities, the Ocean County Utilities Authority and the Tuckerton Seaport," Vicari said.

Ocean County's pumpout boats are specially equipped vessels capable of emptying the on-board toilets and tanks of other boats, thus keeping waste from entering the bay. The boats cover different areas of the bay throughout Ocean County. The pumpout boats can be accessed by contacting the captains on VHF Radio Channel 9.

The costs to operate all the boats are split between the county and the Ocean County Utilities Authority.
"The $120,000 budget covers the boat captains, fuel, maintenance, insurance and other incidental costs," Vicari said. "This allows the service to be provided free of charge to boaters."

Vicari noted that Ocean County adopted a multi-faceted program a number of years ago focusing on protecting the bay by reducing pollutants entering the national estuary.

In addition to its six pumpout boats to keep wastewater from being improperly discharged into the bay, and its aggressive open space preservation program, the County continues to install stormwater Manufactured Treatment Devices in areas throughout the County, to help keep sediments, nutrients and floatables out of the bay.

And, the Ocean County Road Department is part of the County's ongoing efforts to improve water quality.
"Many Ocean County government departments have an important role in protecting and preserving the Barnegat Bay," Vicari said. "We work closely and in partnership with the Barnegat Bay Partnership and other agencies in safeguarding the bay."

Vicari added Ocean County also works closely with the state Department of Environmental Protection in its efforts to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the bay.

"We look forward to participating in the 2017 Barnegat Bay Blitz which is scheduled for June 7," Vicari said. "We are happy to be a sponsor of this annual event and we look forward to the great participation from schools, the community, the county departments and other agencies in working together to clean-up around the area of the Barnegat Bay Watershed.

"It is so important that we all get involved in the effort to protect the bay," he said.

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