By John Ostapkovich

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBS) — A Rutgers University marine scientist says the Barnegat Bay estuary is in bad shape due to pollution, but not the kind where government can cap a pipe or shut down a factory.

If Barnegat Bay were a hospital patient, Michael Kennish says, it would be in very serious condition, its waters and sediments increasingly full of nitrogen and phosphorus.

Kennish, a research professor at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, says there’s a link between the booming Ocean County population and the bay’s decline.

“The land use change that has gone on with population growth is responsible for providing the conduit for delivery of the nutrients to these water bodies, and that’s the cause of this problem over a long period of time,” Kennish tells KYW Newsradio.

Kennish says the source of the nutrients is largely lawn fertilizer, magnified by more hard surfaces like roads and parking lots, a crumbling catch basin system, and that the bay is basically “corked” by a barrier island.

He says a needed step would be to determine exactly how much nitrogen is too much for the bay.

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