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Post-Sandy Waterway Debris Removal '95 Percent' Complete

A boat with AshBritt Inc. docked at Causeway Marina in Manahawkin (Photo: Daniel Nee)
A boat with AshBritt Inc. docked at Causeway Marina in Manahawkin (Photo: Daniel Nee)
The state's effort to remove debris left in the wake of Superstorm Sandy from its waterways is "95 percent complete," Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said Wednesday.

At this point, DEP officials said, the amount of debris washing up and being found in waterways is about equivalent to that of any other summer in New Jersey.

"We do flyovers every single day of the week to make sure that we're looking for debris and any other issues we find in the water," Martin said.

The state uses both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft to monitor waterways and has increased its monitoring to occur six days per week, said Larry Hajna, a DEP spokesman.

"We have have pockets of debris in really isolated marshland areas where we have to fly over to find it," Martin said.

If debris is found, state contractors will go out and collect it, but officials said the amount of debris being found has slowed to a crawl in recent weeks.

"The debris has slowed down dramatically. We're looking for pockets of debris right now, and we're not particularly finding it in the water anymore, it's mostly in marshlands" said Martin.

The next step in the process of restoring the state's waterways is identifying areas where Sandy's wrath led to shoaling. While some areas, such as the portion of Barnegat Bay in and around the ocean breach in Mantoloking and some lagoons and marinas, have been dredged, all of the state's boat channels are undergoing side-scan SONAR readings to determine whether they need to have sediment or shoaled sand removed.

Work on dredging those channels – as long as the shoaling is identified to have been caused by Sandy and, thus, will be eligible for reimbursement by the federal government – will begin once the SONAR readings have been completed.

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