The latest U.S. Geological Survey 40-year study released this week by environmental officials showed mostly negative numbers for the Toms River.

Close-up of water wave

The Toms River was one of only two of New Jersey's 28 study sites showing a rise in nitrogen levels in the water, according to the report.

Barnegat Bay Partnership Director Dr. Stan Hales explains that it is a result of decades of development in the watershed.

"What undoubtedly is driving the increase in loading was the fact that there was so much development  of the landscape," said Hales.

He adds that other U.S.G.S. studies examining the Toms River show runoff as a factor.

"We know that it's runoff from turf," said Hales. "We're looking at an increase in fertilizer loadings to the Toms River and ultimately the Barnegat Bay."


Hales says when this study began Ocean County was beginning to blossom into what we know it as today.

"There were changes in phosphate formulations in detergents," said Hales. "You would hope that the phosphate loadings would go down with sewage treatment and with changes to all the detergents that used to be used prior to that."

Despite the nitrogen levels, Hales says there's a lot of positives in this report but for the flaws show in underdeveloped waterways there are things we need to be more mindful of.

"The Toms River watershed in particular post-sandy...we need to be more thoughtful about our land use," said Hales.

We need to collectively be more pro-active and responsible with our land use and begin to reduce the amount of fertilizer loadings.

He explains another way we can do our part in keeping the Toms River and Barnegat Bay clean moving forward.

"Wetlands are our filter because they trap and process nutrients," said Hales. "They also trap sediments which are also a source of pollution to the bay."

He reiterates that we need to be more proactive of wetlands wherever possible, and for more helpful information he encourages everyone to visit their recently published website.

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Contact Reporter Vin Ebenau at 848-221-8100 or at


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