Water off Jersey Shore could be more polluted than previously believed


The beach is the place to be to beat the summer heat, but how safe really is the water to swim? A new study suggests that there may be more pollution off the Jersey Shore than previously realized.

Researchers at Monmouth University have been collecting water samples from storm drains at five New Jersey beaches since 2019, looking at rain and other environmental data to track bacteria levels. It's being done to potentially develop a model to better forecast bacteria levels.

"From September to May, there's a lot of people. The water isn't routinely measured," said Dr. Jason Adolf "The practicality to do it every day, it's impractical to do that."

After collecting the samples, scientists carefully measure them into plastic trays that are then sealed and incubated for 24 hours. Using UV light, the bacteria glows and provides a new way for researchers to measure how much of it there is.

Using a chart, the researchers can better determine if levels are safe enough for swimmers and surfers to venture into.

"This is huge...you’re always worried about getting an infection, getting sick," said Dr. Jeffrey Weisenburg, who hopes the team's findings can be used across the state. "Hopefully our model is used to better help the public."

Researchers said that rain in the first 6-24 helped best predict bacteria levels.