Environmental Committee

Protecting and improving the water quality of our river and bay
Issued June 12, 2007

Island Heights is truly on the front line of the fight to preserve and improve the water quality of our river and bay. Not only are we a well-developed waterfront town but we are mostly situated on a hill, so our storm water run off washes very quickly into our waterways.

"NPS" (nonpoint source pollution) is described as pollution which to a large extent comes from sources such as storm water run off, carrying with it popular lawn and garden chemicals, pet feces, soap and detergent residues from washing your car, common street litter, as well as oil, gas, and tire residues left by our vehicles on the pavement.

At this moment, it is apparent to many that the ecology of the Toms River and Barnegat Bay is changing in a negative way and they are under increased pressure from NPS. Most of us are probably aware of the highly visible, Sea Nettles (stinging jellyfish) that are now increasingly common but did not exist in our waterways a few years ago. Researchers indicate the source of this problem can be traced back to over-nitrification which, regarding Island Heights, most likely comes from lawn fertilizer nitrogen.

At least part of the solution for our water quality problem rests with many people making individual contributions to change things. As residents, if we make an effort to find and switch over to yard fertilizer products that don't have as much water soluble, ammoniated, fast release nitrogen or find organic alternatives with mostly non-water soluble, slow release nitrogen, then common sense says we will be helping to preserve & improve our aquatic environment.

More specific recommendations would be:

  • Give up the common chemical fertilizers and switch to eco-friendly, yet still effective, organic lawn fertilizers. Our own Mayor Dave is involved in the local production of "OCEANGRO" a certified organic lawn and decorative plant fertilizer. Jonathan Greene, as well as other popular brands also have organic lawn fertilizer products that can be bought locally. has organic lawn products that can be mail ordered.
  • Don't fertilize before a predicted rain storm.
  • If you insist on chemical fertilizers seek brands with slow release nitrogen.
  • Don't over-apply! Use all fertilizers consistent with the manufacturer's application instructions.
Another simple recommendation to mitigate NPS is to use readily available biodegradable soaps and detergents if you wash your own cars or boats.

On April 21 at the Island Heights Borough Earth Day event your local environmental committee members will have more information on alternative products.

More information on NPS is available at which is based at Ocean County College.