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  • Writer's pictureKaren Brittingham-Edmond

From Overcrowding to Contamination: Unraveling the Link Between Population Growth and Beach Water Health

May 30, 2024

Interpretative Report

Picture Source: Wix Media

According to the United States Census Bureau, New Jersey's population increased from approximately 8,958,000 in 2015 to an estimated 9,288,000 in 2021, a growth of around 330,000 people over the six-year period. (Not including unreported immigrant populations.)

Overpopulation can strain local sewage and waste management systems, leading to increased contamination of water sources with fecal bacteria. Consequently, beaches in densely populated areas may experience higher levels of fecal bacteria in the water, potentially posing health risks to swimmers and beachgoers. However, local authorities play a crucial role in monitoring water quality in these areas and taking effective measures to mitigate the impact of overpopulation on beach water quality. This includes implementing swimming advisories and alerts to warn the public about the potential health hazards associated with swimming in contaminated water. Their proactive actions should instill confidence in the public's safety.

Per a report shared by the Middletown Patch titled "3 Jersey Shore Beaches Under Swim Advisories For Fecal Bacteria Levels" by Nicole Rosenthal the affected beaches currently reported for advisories are: "Ocean County: 5th Ave Bay Front (Seaside Park)

Cape May County: Forget-me-not (Wildwood Crest Borough), 18th Ave. (North Wildwood City.)"

Swimming in water with high levels of fecal bacteria can increase the risk of various illnesses, including gastrointestinal issues such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. Additionally, swimmers may risk developing skin rashes, ear infections, and respiratory problems. Some specific illnesses from swimming in water contaminated with fecal bacteria include hepatitis, norovirus, and bacterial infections such as E. coli and salmonella. It's essential to be aware of these health risks and to heed any swimming advisories or alerts issued by local authorities.

A word from The Echo

Political candidates and elected officials often address water quality issues as part of their platforms and policies. However, the responsibility of maintaining water quality and preventing contamination also lies with us, the public. We can contribute by advocating for increased funding for water infrastructure and sewage treatment facilities, supporting environmental regulations to limit pollution, and promoting public awareness campaigns about water conservation and pollution prevention. By being informed and proactive, we can help enforce laws that protect water sources from contamination and invest in research and technology aimed at monitoring and improving water quality. These collective efforts are crucial in preventing fecal bacteria and other contaminants from negatively impacting water bodies, including beaches and coastal areas.


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