Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) Wednesday touted the work of the Monmouth University's Urban Coast Institute, which has received over $1 million in federal funding since it was established in 2005 to study the coastal environment. Last year, the program received $250,000 in federal funding to study and develop strategies to reduce pollution and help maintain the balance of human and natural use of coastal areas.
Lautenberg and Pallone, both long-time advocates of oceans and beaches, talked about the importance of keeping these waters clean and the important stewardship role of the Urban Coast Institute in maintaining these areas.
"We are proud to partner with Monmouth University's Urban Coast Institute to keep our water clean and our coastal economy strong," stated Lautenberg. "Clean water is the difference between a paycheck or an unemployment check for thousands of families in New Jersey's coastal communities. This critical water quality program will help us fulfill our obligation to keep New Jersey's coast open for business and clean for our children and grandchildren."
"As we have seen in the Gulf region, maintaining a good environment in our coastal areas can be difficult," said Pallone. "New Jersey faces a unique set of challenges as we strive to maintain our own environmental quality. Twenty years ago pollution closed New Jersey's beaches causing significant environmental damage and harm to the tourism industry. This work by the Urban Coast Institute is key to maintaining healthy oceans and beaches. The health of our beaches is also vital to New Jersey's economy."
The University's Fiscal Year 2011 request would fund research to determine how the public's use of the ocean for boating, swimming, fishing and other purposes affects the environment of the coast and ocean ecosystem.
Through this research, state and local partners will coordinate ways to reduce pollution and restore coastal areas to protect the ocean and local economies. The Belmar Marina is one of eight monitoring sites in Monmouth and Ocean counties that contribute water quality data, central to the understanding of the coastal ecosystems.
Tony MacDonald, Director of the Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute noted that "New Jersey 's coastal waters continue to face significant pollution and habitat degradation from non-point source run off including litter, pet waste, fertilizers, pesticides, as well as from leaky septic, sewage and stormwater systems. Support from Senator Lautenberg and Representative Pallone for the RESCUE initiative provides critical funding, which enables the Urban Coast Institute to work with local communities and other partners to monitor, track , and take targeted action to reduce these sources of pollution and to plan for restoration of coastal habitats"
Belmar Mayor Ken Pringle, Monmouth University President Paul Gaffney, American Littoral Society Executive Director Tim Dillingham, and other representatives from Belmar, Monmouth University and environmental groups all joined in support of the Urban Coast Institute's project.
In addition to securing federal funding for Monmouth University's water quality monitoring program, Lautenberg and Pallone last year introduced legislation to reauthorize the Beaches Environmental and Coastal Health Act in order to strengthen the existing law. The legislation would provide states with more grant funding for water monitoring and require the Environmental Protection Agency to develop rapid methods for testing beach water. New Jersey was awarded $280,000 in BEACH Act grants this year.