In New Jersey, 3 percent of beach water samples violated national standards in 2011, ranking the state fourth out of 30 coastal states.
"This time of year, New York and New Jersey beaches are flooded with visitors from near and far, but unfortunately they're often inundated with dangerous pollution that can make swimmers sick as well," said Lawrence Levine, a senior attorney with the group. "Last year - thanks in part to Irene and record rainfall - this mess led to a massive uptick in beach closings in the area."
New Jersey had 131 closing and advisory days last year, a 20 percent increase from 109 days in 2010. The increase last year was the result of increased precautionary closings and advisories due to heavy rain. In Monmouth County, some of these were issued as a preemptive measure because of Tropical Storm Irene, which caused 25 closing days during the storm.
The most common reported cause of contamination in the state was storm water runoff (79 percent), followed by sewage spills or leaks (5 percent), while 17 percent of contamination came from unknown sources.
The county with the highest health standard violation rate was Ocean County (5 percent), followed by Monmouth (4 percent). Atlantic and Cape May Counties each had 1 percent violation rates.
The New Jersey beaches with the highest health standard violation rate were Beachwood Beach West in Ocean County (31 percent); the Highlands Recreation Center beach in Raritan Bay in Monmouth County (28 percent), the L Street Beach on the Shark River in Belmar in Monmouth (20 percent), and Windward Beach on Brick's Metedeconk River in Ocean and the Maxson Avenue beach on the Manasquan River in Point Pleasant in Ocean (each 19 percent).
In New York state, there were 1,841 closing and advisory days last year at both coastal and Great Lakes beaches, a 93 percent increase from 956 days in 2010.