Christie signs major legislation to improve water quality
The $650 million package will start to clean up Barnegat Bay, one of Gov. Christie's major campaign promises.
Monday, August 15, 2011 - 12:51
CLEANING UP: New Jersey's Barnegat Bay is one of the most polluted bodies of water in the country and will benefit greatly from Christie's new clean water initiative. (Photo: flyersgirl4118/Flickr)
If there is one thing that Chris Christie can be described as since becoming governor of New Jersey, it would be "bold." He has been very forward with the state's citizens regarding his plans and in most cases has followed through on his promises.
When running for governor, Christie made the cleaning and restoration of Barnegat Bay a top priority. In the two years since his election, he has taken steps to clean the bay. Christie "signed legislation establishing the nation's toughest standards for limiting nutrients from fertilizers that flow into the water, and has helped negotiate the early closing of the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Lacey Township, which discharges into the ailing bay." Unfortunately, many environmentalists felt that he was not making quick enough progress to save Barnegat, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has labeled one of the most polluted coastal estuaries in the country.
Finally, Christie has seemingly taken appropriate action to save Barnegat. Just last week he approved "$650 million in low-cost and no-cost loans to flow into water quality and protection projects throughout New Jersey."
According to the Associated Press, "the bipartisan legislation Christie signed today will make $400 million available for projects that clean up water used for fishing and swimming. Another $250 million will be available for drinking water projects."
Luckily, Barnegat Bay is going to be the direct recipient of millions of dollars from these grants and loans. According to MaryAnn Spoto of the Newark Star Ledger, of the $400 million allocated to the state's Environmental Infrastructure Trust Fund, $16 million is designated for 25 storm water projects affecting Barnegat Bay. This seems like smart, common sense. Before the water in Barnegat can start to improve, the source of the pollution must be suppressed. In Barnegat's case that source is almost entirely runoff containing toxic fertilizers.
According to Spoto, "Over the past five decades, overdevelopment and pollution from nutrients in fertilizers have choked off the growth of native species in the bay and encouraged the rapid growth of invasive species such as jellyfish. The overload of nitrogen, which has killed off native aquatic species, is so extensive that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has listed the bay as having the second-worst eutrophication problem in the country behind the Chesapeake Bay."
So how exactly would the storm drains help? Repairing and installing new storm drains, according to environmentalists, "would allow the nutrients washed from lawns to remain in the ground instead of being swept directly into tributaries and eventually to the bay."