Five county beaches among the cleanest in the country, environmental group says

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Beach at 96th Street in Stone Harbor Beach at 96th Street in Stone Harbor Five beaches in Cape May County are among seven state beaches ranked as the cleanest in the country, according to a national environmental watchdog group.

Beaches in Avalon, Stone Harbor, Sea Isle City, Strathmere, and Wildwood Crest were all named “superstar” beaches by the Natural Resources Defense Council, for consistently meeting national water quality benchmarks set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

“That’s certainly an honor to get that recognition,” said Renny Steele, captain of Sea Isle Beach Patrol. “It’s something I’m sure the city is very proud of.”

Murray Wolf, captain of Avalon Beach Patrol, said it was great news to have an Avalon beach ranked so highly, and noted it’s a good time for vacationers to enjoy the waters off the coast of the borough.

“The water is tested all the time,” Wolf said. “We haven’t had any problems.”

Wolf said that while the beach patrol, beach taggers, and Avalon Public Works keep the sands free of trash, the state’s testing of local beaches helps ensure the waters are safe.

Last month, Linda Wilde, division director of the county’s Environmental Health Services, said that throughout the summer, water at local beaches is sampled weekly, and the state operates a helicopter off the coast to spot floating debris, oil slicks, fish kills and algae blooms.

To compile its list of top beaches, the NRDC analyzed water testing results from the EPA and state beach coordinators from almost 3,500 beaches nationwide. From that number, the group culled the top 35 beaches across the country, and New Jersey had more beaches on the “superstar” list than any other state.

“The beach patrons can be very happy about going into the water at Sea Isle City,” Steele said.

“I think knowing how clean the ocean water along the coast of New Jersey, and especially the beach in Sea Isle is great news,” he said.

New Jersey beaches recognized by the NRDC include:

* Sea Isle City at 40th Street, Cape May County

* Avalon at 40th Street, Cape May County

* Stone Harbor at 96th Street, Cape May County

* Strathmere in Upper Township at Webster Road, Cape May County

* Wildwood Crest at Orchid, Cape May County

* Margate at Washington, Atlantic County

* Broadway Point Pleasant Beach, Ocean County

In her blog, Johanna Dyer, NRDC spokeswoman, noted that in 2013, more than 100 beaches in the state had perfect beach-water quality, including the 9th Street Beach in Avalon and Ocean Avenue Beach in Cape May Point.

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