Research Project Summaries

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The research project summary is a 3-5 page document providing a brief, general overview of the project.


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    Ground Water Withdrawal and Water Level Data for the Central Passaic River Basin, New Jersey, 1898 - 1990: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Energy, Division of Science and Research, 1993-01) Hoffman, Jeffrey L.; New Jersey. Department of Environmental Protection and Energy
    The most important source for ground water in the Central Passaic River Basin in northeastern New Jersey is the valley-fill aquifer system. A century of pumpage has lowered water levels significantly in this system. Near the center of greatest pumpage, piezometric ground-water levels have fallen an estimated 80 feet since 1890. Observation wells away from the pumping centers show a regional lowering of water levels. This report provides the basic data on pumpage locations and volumes for 238 industrial and municipal wells and well fields. Water levels from 47 observation wells are also shown. These data are needed for ongoing work to interpret ground-water conditions and predict the effects of current and future pumpage on ground-water levels.
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    Public Response to Uncertainty in Environmental Risk Estimates: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Science, Research and Technology, 2003-06) Johnson, Branden B.; Slovic, Paul
    Scientists and officials often wish to publicize their estimates of environmental health risk, which always have some uncertainty. Risk communicators have urged uncertainty be part of the message. The research reported here is among the first to test public reactions to such messages. The few other studies done suggested public reactions could vary from greater risk aversion to no effect to greater acceptance of risks. The research summarized here explored reactions to numeric estimates of uncertainty, particularly in ranges of risk estimates. It included federally funded research for which Johnson and Slovic collected data mostly in Oregon, and research by Johnson with New Jersey data; results were similar and involved the same lead author, so both are reported here for a fuller explanation of public response to environmental risk uncertainties.
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    Communicating Status and Trends in Environmental Quality : Reactions of Legislative Staff, Reporters, Activists, and Citizens: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Science, Research and Technology, 2003-05) Johnson, Branden B.; Chess, Caron; Gibson, Ginger
    When agencies wish to communicate the status or trend in an environmental condition (for example, whether ozone levels currently exceed the federal ambient standard; whether ozone levels have been declining in the past 20 years), they often use quantitative information, particularly in the form of a chart or graph. This research project explored how various audiences would react to visual presentations of status and trend measures across a variety of environmental topics (air quality, drinking water quality, endangered species, etc.). The general reaction was positive, although people attentive to government (legislative staff, reporters, activists) were more skeptical about the information than were ordinary citizens. Making status and trend presentations understandable and accurate can be a problem, and many citizens made the error of inferring local environmental conditions from measures that used statewide data only.
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    Public Reaction to Risk Comparisons: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Science, Research and Technology, 2003-08) Johnson, Branden B.
    "Risk comparisons"-comparison of specific risk values (e.g., of ambient air or soil pollution) to standards or to risk levels from other activities or at other locations-have been urged to help the public "put risks in context." However, little research has been conducted on actual public reactions to risk comparisons. Focus groups and a series of survey experiments with New Jersey residents explored those reactions. People rated risk comparisons as informative, wanted similar risk comparison information from government agencies or companies, and (usually) felt the information in the comparisons was understandable. However, risk comparisons had modest to weak impacts on people's risk views. For example, people's reactions to various hazards seemed driven more by their beliefs about risks in general or by who they were (e.g., women were more concerned) than by the format or content of comparisons about the hazards' risks. When a risk comparison did seem to have an effect, such as reducing judgments of risk magnitude, criticism of the comparison could undermine its effects; however, mentioning potential criticisms when the comparison was first presented offset the effect of the criticism. Adding an explicit claim about risk acceptability-"So our factory's risks should be acceptable to you"-did not appreciably affect reactions to the comparisons, despite speculation that such claims would alienate audiences. Overall, the results suggest that risk comparisons can be appreciated by public audiences, but they require careful design and pre-testing before use, and their effects can be qualitatively or quantitatively different from what the advocates of such comparisons expect.
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    Public Reaction to Annual Reports on Drinking Water Quality: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Science, Research and Technology, 2003-10) Johnson, Branden B.
    Several survey experiments in New Jersey explored customer reactions to Consumer Confidence Reports (CCRs) on drinking water quality that utilities are required to make available to their customers each year. CCRs received from utilities are quickly forgotten; on average, reactions are positive, but evaluations of water quality change little. Qualitative reports (i.e., without the required water quality tables) were rated lower than quantitative CCRs. Adding information about protection of water source quality was welcomed. People reacted no differently to hypothetical CCRs with and without Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) violations. Customers wanted all required CCR information and more. Reactions to required CCR formats and texts, and plausible alternatives, differed hardly at all. Many people could not identify hypothetical MCL violations in CCRs, and ranges of detected contaminant levels required in CCR tables were particularly hard to interpret in comparisons to MCLs. Attitudes to water quality seem shaped more by personal experience of tap water quality and of the utility than by CCR content. Improving tap water aesthetics, even beyond compliance with secondary standards, might most improve customers' views of its safety.
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    Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), Chlordane, and DDTs in Selected Fish and Shellfish from New Jersey Waters 1988 - 1991 : Results from New Jersey's Toxics in Biota Monitoring Program: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : Department of Environmental Protection and Energy, Division of Science and Research, 1993-12) Baldwin Brown, Alena; Ruppel, Bruce
    This summary presents the results of monitoring carried out between 1988 and 1991 under the direction of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Energy’s (DEPE) Toxics in Biota Technical Committee. Data on levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlordane, and DDT and its metabolites DDD and DDE (DDTs) in 217 single-fish samples and composite samples from ten species overall show consistency with previous DEPE monitoring data. The results indicate that fish sampled from the Northeast region (Hudson, Raritan, Hackensack and Passaic River drainages) remain the most severely contaminated. However, there is some indication that there is a decrease in contaminant levels, as there were fewer exceedances of FDA action levels than previously observed. All sampled in exceedance of FDA action levels, with three exceptions, are covered by consumption advisories or bans issued by the state.
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    Reconnaissance of Surface Water Estrogenicity and the Prevalence of Intersex in Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus Dolomieu) Inhabiting New Jersey: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Science and Research, 2020-07) Iwanowicz, Luke R.; Smalling, Kelly R.; Blazer, Vicki S.; Braham, Ryan P.; Sanders, Lakyn R.; Boetsma, Anna; Procopio, Nicholas A.; Goodrow, Sandra; Buchanan, Gary A.; Millemann, Daniel R.; Ruppel, Bruce; Vile, John; Henning, Brian; Abatemarco, John
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    A Review of Neonicotinoid Insecticides and Occurrence in New Jersey Surface Water and Groundwater: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Science and Research, 2020-09) Millemann, Daniel R.; Genievich, Heather; Reilly, Ed; Rush, Anne; Goodrow, Sandra; Procopio, Nicholas A.
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    New Jersey 2021 Rainfall Studies Summary
    (Ithaca, NY : Cornell University, Northeast Regional Climate Center, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science, 2021) DeGaetano, Arthur
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    A Pilot Trap Survey of Artificial Reefs in New Jersey for Monitoring of Black Sea Bass, Tautog, and American Lobster: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Science and Research, 2021-04) Jensen, Olaf P.; Zemeckis, Douglas; Ruppel, Bruce
    The data generated from this research were used to characterize the seasonal and spatial variation in community composition and relative abundance of structure-associated species on artificial reefs along the coast of New Jersey. These results also provided the information necessary to design a statistically robust trap survey for three targeted recreational and commercial important fish species (Black Sea Bass, Tautog and American lobster). This research provides immediate utility for New Jersey fishery managers through a characterization of seasonal changes in the fish and invertebrate communities inhabiting two existing artificial reefs (Sea Girt and Little Egg Inlet Reefs) and one artificial reef site from pre-construction through construction (Manasquan Inlet Reef). In addition, data on the targeted species and other species (Scup, Jonah crab and rock crab) were generated for a comparison of fish and invertebrate abundance that utilize different artificial reef material, including metal, concrete, and sand. These data are necessary in the development of reliable and efficient trap surveys that can stand up to the rigorous peer review process associated with stock assessments.
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    Nutrient and Carbon Fluxes to Barnegat Bay from Marginal Saline Wetlands: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Science and Research, 2021-12) Velinsky, David; Wilson, Timothy; Millemann, Daniel R.
    Salt marshes, such as those found along Barnegat Bay, play an important role in removing pollutants and cycling nutrients from aquatic ecosystems, as well as serve as a vital link between terrestrial watersheds and coastal waters. Biogeochemical processes transform nutrients during transport through the marsh complex altering the form, concentration, and fate of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus entering the bay. In some cases, water quality models do not adequately account for marsh habitats in the assessment of the watershed flux of nutrients to coastal waters. Additional data on nutrient concentrations and their transport in marsh habitats will improve estuarine water quality models in New Jersey and similar habitats elsewhere on the eastern seaboard. This research project collected nutrient data along the Westecunk Creek through the Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor Estuary to determine the approximate flux of nitrogen, phosphorous, and other measured constituents. Dissolved nitrate exhibited substantial non-conservative behavior as the marsh complex served as a source of nitrate to the creek in the spring and as a sink during the summer months.
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    New Jersey’s Coastal Estuaries Inventory – Project Years 1-3: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Science and Research, 2021-04) Sullivan, Mark; Evert, Steve; Ruppel, Bruce
    This project engaged Stockton University faculty, staff, and students to collect year-round haul seine data and a local commercial fisher (stakeholder) to supply seasonal fyke net data over a 3-year period (2016–2019) to record the aquatic species present in the Mullica River-Great Bay (MRGB) estuary (NJ) for the NJDEP Marine Fisheries program. In total, 485 haul seine samples were collected, and 170,375 individual finfish/invertebrates were inventoried representing 95 unique species. During the winter/spring sampling efforts, 212 fyke net samples collected by a commercial partner inventoried 14,667 individuals from 39 species leading to a comparison of the sample method effectiveness for generating a more comprehensive inventory survey. The dominant species collected were Atlantic Menhaden (n=81,968), Atlantic Silverside (n=41,234), Bay Anchovy (n=15,796), and White Perch (n=14,641). Young-of-the-year (YOY) tracking from length frequency and seasonal “split” timing (spring, summer) data for Bluefish (n=1,252) showed age/size differences. White Perch were tracked from low salinity, shallow nursery grounds in summer (seine nets) to deeper bay environments in winter (fyke nets). Several Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) managed species were collected. Striped Bass (n=272) appeared in both gears and provided YOY-age 1 samples for otolith microchemistry. Winter Flounder (n=740) and Summer Flounder (n=1,244) exhibited similar settlement patterns (inlet-bay, bay-river respectively) and reliably appeared in both gear types. Weakfish (n=3) was almost completely absent from both gear types. Of managed herring species, Alewife (n=426) dominated the winter/spring migration (fyke) and YOY summer recruitment (seine). Surprisingly, seine collections did not reveal an abundance of southern and/or expatriated species. However, winter fyke catches highlighted species that typically out migrate during the fall to offshore water or to warmer waters south, such as Summer Flounder and Atlantic Menhaden, respectively. Data obtained from utilizing fyke nets shows the importance of pairing collection methods and partners to sample suboptimal, data-poor time periods.
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    Comprehensive Estuarine Fish Inventory Program : Great Bay Mullica River: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Science and Research, 2021-04) Able, Kenneth W.; Grothues, Thomas M.; Ruppel, Bruce
    Estuaries are important spawning, nursery, and harvest areas for fish and invertebrates of recreational, commercial, and ecological importance along coastal New Jersey. Data about these systems is in increasing demand by many segments of the public. Resource managers, as well as recreational and commercial fishermen at all levels, are beginning to play a larger advisory role where fish habitats and fish survival are concerned. Fish constitute one of the largest portions of animal biomass and thus they are important to estuarine ecosystems. Data were collected between 2016 and 2018 to determine the spawning and nursery areas of fishes and crabs with emphasis on those of commercial, recreational, and ecological importance in the Mullica River – Great Bay estuary. The researchers evaluated how changes in water quality and habitat contribute to the distribution and abundance of fishes, as well as ecologically important invertebrates such as crabs and jellyfishes. The variation in habitat use of fishes and crabs were noted across life history stages with focus on larvae, juveniles, and adults using a variety of gear types.
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    Analysis of Mercury Species in New Jersey Ground water Using Inductively Coupled Plasma - Mass Spectrometry and Gas Chromatography: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Energy, Division of Science and Research, 1993-06) Murphy, Eileen A.; Dooley, John; Windom, Herbert L.; Smith, Ralph G. Jr.
    Water samples from 78 private potable wells in southern NJ were collected for mercury analysis in 1991-1992. The wells are located in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape Map and Ocean Counties. Total mercury concentrations varied from 1 ng/L to over 36 Fg/L. The dominant form in which mercury occurred in the wells sampled was inorganic, although monomethylmercury was present in some wells comprising up to 8% of the total mercury in one ground-water sample. Mercury analyses performed using the EPA Method 245.1 should be interpreted with caution. While this method is generally suited for analyzing waters having elevated mercury concentrations (total mercury levels above 2000 ng/L or 2 µg/L), it is less sensitive and even inadequate for characterizing background mercury levels.
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    Nitrate in Drinking Water Wells in New Jersey: Burlington, Gloucester, Mercer, Ocean, and Salem Counties: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : Department of Environmental Protection and Energy, Division of Science and Research, 1998-03) Murphy, Eileen A.
    Drinking water wells throughout Burlington, Gloucester, Mercer, Ocean and Salem Counties, New Jersey were sampled for levels of nitrate during the spring and summer of 1990 and 1991. Highest nitrate concentrations were found in water from shallow wells (less than 100 ft.), within 50 ft. of a septic tank, near land to which fertilizer had been applied, and within 1/4 mile of an agricultural area, sod farm or golf course.
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    Public Evaluations of Reservoir Protection: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : Department of Environmental Protection and Energy, Division of Science and Research, 1992-10) Johnson, Branden B.; Welsh, Michael
    New Jersey citizens indicated very strong support for preserving existing natural zones around water supply reservoirs, using the Wanaque-Monksville Reservoir system as a case study. These citizens also supported the acquisition of additional natural zones around reservoirs if needed to protect water quality, and regulation of land uses around water supply sources without such buffer zones. This support for control of lands around water sources was very strong, whether among users of reservoir water, residents around the reservoir, or people who fished on the reservoir.
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    Lead in New Jersey School Drinking Water: Results of a Monitoring Study: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : Department of Environmental Protection and Energy, Division of Science and Research, 1993-05) Murphy, Eileen A.
    In 1990 and 1991, water samples from 100 drinking water fountains in 50 school buildings were collected and analyzed for lead, copper, hardness, alkalinity, pH, and temperature. Fountains were sampled first thing in the morning, after flushing the fountain for 10 minutes, and just before the first lunch break at the school.
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    Evaluation of Chemical and Physical Characteristics of Water Treatment Residuals Before and After a Freeze-Thaw Cycle: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : Department of Environmental Protection and Energy, Division of Science and Research, 1994-03) Murphy, Eileen A.; Dempsey, Brian; DeWolfe, James; Lunetta, Mark; Elias, Steven
    The effects of natural freeze/thawing on the chemical and physical characteristics of eight NJ water treatment residuals were investigated in relation to trace metal leaching. Field and laboratory studies indicate that leaching of metals from residuals which have undergone a freeze/thaw cycle is considerably less than raw residuals. Furthermore, freeze-thawed residuals mixed with NJ soils leached metals less than raw residuals mixed with soils. The freeze/thaw residuals-soil mixtures, in most cases, exhibited leaching characteristics similar to those of the soils alone.
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    Survey of Surface Source Waters for Giardia And Cryptosporidium and Water Treatment Efficiency Evaluation: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Science and Research, 1995-08) Atherholt, Thomas B.; LeChevallier, Mark W.; Norton, William D.
    Giardia and Cryptosporidium (shortened to "Crypto") parasites are among the leading identified causes of waterborne disease in the United States. Giardia cysts and Crypto oocysts have been identified in many surface waters throughout the country, but the concentrations in most of New Jersey's (NJ) surface waters, many of which are used as source waters for drinking water treatment plants, are unknown. To provide safe drinking water, treatment plants need to remove Giardia and Crypto from untreated water or reduce their concentrations to safe levels. Peak parasite levels, together with adverse water treatment factors, such as low water temperature, determine the maximum risk of human infection. However, parasite testing is not required by law and is not routinely performed by water treatment plants or regulatory personnel because the methods available are difficult, expensive, time-consuming, and have other drawbacks.
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    What NJDEP Managers and Staff Think About Communicating with the Public, and Improving Agency Infrastructure for Supporting Program Communications: Research Project Summary
    (Trenton, N.J. : New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Science, Research and Technology, 2006-06) Johnson, Branden B.
    Interviews were conducted with managers and staff of NJDEP about their respective programs’ communications with the public. Two unique perspectives were revealed. The perspective that researchers labeled as “Enthusiastic” emphasized that program managers and program culture supported communication, it was everyone’s job, and the program used its experience for continuous improvement of communications that were not required by law or regulation. The perspective labeled “Constrained” emphasized the lack of operational resources (time, expertise, access to decision-makers), the difficulty of responding to public demand for more or better communications, reliance on common sense rather than training, and increasing communication when need for public acceptance increased. Both groups felt communication was essential to program success, and tended to downplay public or other external barriers to external communication effectiveness. More generally, interviewees noted that proactive communication and evaluation of communication were both desirable but erratic. Use of job performance appraisals to specifically assess individuals’ communication with the public, and praise for good communication performance, was thought to vary widely. While the Office of Communications and the Press Office did garner praise, many interviewees thought their services were little known or used, or could be improved with better communication between them and programs. Recommendations for improving agency infrastructure to support program communications thus included increasing program commitment to communication (through both attitudinal and operational resources), increasing proactive communication and evaluation, encouraging use of job performance appraisals to foster good communication, and clarifying communication and relations between central communication offices and programs.