New Jersey waterway debris removal winding down after Sandy

October 19, 2013 7:05:31 AM PDT
A massive cleanup of debris that washed into New Jersey waterways after Superstorm Sandy is nearing an end.

The state says the cleanup will end on Oct. 30, a day after the anniversary of the deadly storm.

So far more than 101,000 cubic yards worth of debris has been removed from lagoons, bays, rivers and the ocean. That's enough to fill more than 50,000 full-sized pickup trucks.

Companies hired by the state surveyed nearly 195,000 acres of waterway bottoms using side-scan sonar, a technology by which submerged items can be located using equipment over the side of a boat.

As of Friday, the cleanup had yielded 101,716 cubic yards of debris from more than 6,000 targeted locations. It plucked 194 cars and boats from the water, along with four "mostly intact" homes.

Common items removed from the waters included docks, bulkheads, pieces of boardwalks, barbecue grills, patio furniture and other storm debris from tidal waters from Bergen County to Cape May, and up the Delaware Bay to the Delaware Memorial Bridge in Salem County.

An effort to dredge sand and mud from waterways will continue into the fall. So far, more than 360,000 cubic yards of Sandy-related sediment has been removed from waterways. In some places, it is being placed back on the beach to help rebuild dunes and natural coastal defenses, although some residents have complained about its dark color and unpleasant smell.

Earlier this month, municipalities were given until Oct. 15 to notify the state Department of Environmental Protection of any remaining waterway debris removal requests. The local towns are now responsible for anything that turns up in their waterways.

The state Department of Transportation is working on a separate plan to dredge state channels, some of which were affected by the storm.