Seaside Park at Sunrise

We’ve all heard them, the late night talk show hosts from New York to California, Saturday Night Live, even Snookie’s mother on MTV’s  “Jersey Shore” declaring that New Jersey ocean water is dirty. The question is – is it true????  Where does New Jersey’s pollution levels compare with other states??  You may be in for a rude awakening if you were thinking that Jay Leno, David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, or even Snookie’s mother knew what the hell they were talking about when it comes to New Jersey. Would you believe it if I told you that New JERSEY has better water quality than California, Florida, Virginia, South Carolina and 17 other beach states?

Well not only do the late night talk show hosts not know what they are talking about when they denigrate New Jersey, but they seem to ignore that New Jersey has better beach water quality than the states they actually live in – primarily New York and California. In actuality, New Jersey is ranked 7th in percentage of water samples exceeding national standards out of 28 states.

All information here is taken from the National Resources Defense Council which compiles an annual report on the water quality of America’s beaches.  You can read the full 2009 report at – Testing the Waters 2009: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches

2008 Percentage of Water Samples Exceeding National Standards

Delaware 1%
New Hampshire 1%
Georgia 2%
Hawaii 2%
Maryland 2%
North Carolina 2%
New Jersey 3%
Oregon 3%
Connecticut 4%
Florida 4%
Minnesota 4%
Washington 4%
Massachusetts 5%
Michigan 5%
Pennsylvania 5%
Texas 6%
Maine 7%
Alabama 8%
New York 8%
South Carolina 8%
California 11%
Indiana 13%
Mississippi 14%
Rhode Island 14%
Illinois 15%
Wisconsin 15%
Ohio 22%
Louisiana 31%

So if you were thinking of the great beaches in California, you know – the ones that all the Beach Boys songs are about, you may want to reconsider that and instead take a trip to the Jersey Shore (11% versus 3%).

So should NJ be happy with being 7th? Absolutely NOT! There is no reason why New Jersey can’t improve and hopefully over take North Carolina at the very least. In 2005 we had only 1% of our water quality samples exceed national standards. The main beach culprit that seems to keep New Jersey down is Beachwood Beach West.  It is a repeat offender in water quality. Read more about the quality of New Jersey’s waters at –Natural Resources Defense Council – New Jersey Report. According to the Report in 2009, studies are being conducted to help further improve New Jersey’s water quality – “In 2009, a wet weather study will be conducted at this beach [Beachwood Beach West] and several other beaches in Ocean County to help local health officials find sources of bacteria at these beaches and to determine whether it would be appropriate for these beaches to have preemptive rainfall closings.”

There are a lot of factors that cause water pollution and beach closures, anything from run off from roadways, fecal waste from animals and humans, fertilizer from farms and lawns, illegal dumping off the coast, not to mention the most preventable of all by vacationers and residents alike – people leaving their trash laying around or using the beach as their own personal ashtray.


  1. I am definitely glad that this article puts the constant speculation of our water quality compared to the other states to rest. New Jersey has been taking this beating for years. Thanks for posting!


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