NJ DEP says Barnegat Bay healthy, environmentalists disagree

 Barnegat Bay (Alan Tu/WHYY)

Barnegat Bay (Alan Tu/WHYY)

New Jersey officials and environmentalists have vastly different assessments of the health of Barnegat Bay.

The state Environmental Protection Department on Tuesday presented three years of scientific data that it says shows the bay is healthy overall, with problems like pollution and stinging jellyfish in spots.

But environmental groups say the bay is in far worse shape than the state claims. They harshly criticized the DEP for failing to set daily limits on how much polluted runoff should be allowed to enter the bay.

The state studied things like tiny worms buried deep in the sand, plankton in the bay’s water, and fish and crab populations.

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Environmentalists say strictly limiting the amount of nitrogen entering the bay from fertilizer runoff is needed immediately.

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