In a summer at the Jersey Shore marred by lagging interest in tourism, minimal beach badge revenue and
residents lacking funding to rebuild their homes damaged by Hurricane
Sandy, there was one part of the so-called worst case scenario that
didn't hold water — a spike in boating accidents.
Despite an early season campaign by the boating industry to
allay trepidation among boaters that debris washed into local waterways
could pose safety hazards, fears lingered through much of the summer as
work to clean waterways – which began last winter — entered its home stretch.
some areas were identified as having experienced increased shoaling —
and sandbars shifting positions from a year earlier — no serious
accidents tied to storm debris were reported all season long, state
Boating accidents, the numbers show, have remained at seasonal norms through the summer.
Aug. 16, a total of 85 vessel accidents had been reported, causing 29
injuries and five fatalities, New Jersey State Police Sgt. Adam Grossman
That compares to a total of 115 accidents in 2012, which
caused eight deaths. Several previous years yielded somewhat higher
accident totals in New Jersey, including a spike to 140 accidents in
2008 which claimed 10 lives, according to statistics compiled by the
U.S. Coast Guard.
"As the season went on, people became more
comfortable," said Melissa Danko, Executive Director of the Marine
Trades Association of New Jersey, an industry group that primarily
represents marinas and others in the boating business.
marinas reported increased sales as the season went on, Danko said, as
boaters' confidence in the safety of local waterways increased.
Debris Removal Essentially Complete
the time the bulk of waterway debris removal efforts had been completed
in early summer, state officials said the number of floating or
submerged objects being reported to authorities conformed to about the
average for any summer.
Likewise, there were few reports of
debris washing up on ocean beaches, Department of Environmental
Protection spokesman Larry Ragonese said, and no injuries had been
reported as Labor Day weekend began.
"We've gotten 99 percent of
what's been identified," said Ragonese, describing the current role of
waterway debris removal contractors as mostly an "on call" scenario.
The small amount of debris that remains is mainly washed up in marshy areas, officials have said.
In all, 96,000 cubic yards of debris have been removed from waterways statewide since the cleanup effort began last winter.
crews are now focusing their efforts on removing sediment that was
deposited by the storm in channels, riverbeds and certain areas of back
bays. About 244,000 cubic yards of sediment has been removed thus far,
Ragonese said, out of 900,000 total — about 26 percent.
"Everything else, basically, is one the done side," he said.
Sediment removal is expected to be completed by the end of October.
entire waterway debris and sediment removal is expected to cost about
$122 million, said Ragonese, an amount for which the state is hoping to
be 100 percent reimbursed by the federal government.