Clean Ocean Action

What is Effluent?

After the wastewater that is generated by households, municipalities, and industries has undergone treatment at coastal New Jersey’s seventeen wastewater facilities, the remaining liquid product is discharged into the ocean.


After water has proceeded through the treatment train of primary, secondary, disinfection, and in some cases tertiary treatments, and is to be discharged, the treated wastewater is called effluent. Effluent is the liquid outflow from a wastewater treatment plant. Although it has been treated, the excessive volume of effluent and the low levels of indicator pathogens, toxins, nutrients, and substantial levels of chlorine disinfectants in the effluent can harm the ecosystem to which the effluent is discharged.


It is interesting to note that prior to the 1970s, many wastewater treatment plants were smaller and discharged directly into rivers and back-bays, causing several water quality problems in the late 1970s. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP) made a policy shift to crate huge wastewater facilities, which discharged treated wastewater in the ocean, instead.


What is in Effluent?

Pathogens: Microorganisms responsible for viral and bacterial infections such as Salmonella and Hepatitis A and E, but also includes several protozoan species.


Toxins: Includes organic and inorganic chemicals such as metals, petroleum products, pesticides, and industrial chemicals.


Nutrients: Naturally occurring nutrients, but in elevated levels that may cause detrimental results, such as algal blooms.


Chlorine: Widely used as a disinfectant in different forms and is pumped into the aquatic environment in large quantities as by-products of the disinfection process.


49 Avenel Blvd.
Long Branch, NJ 07740

Field Office:

Gateway National Recreation Area
Sandy Hook, New Jersey

Voice: (732) 872-0111
FAX: (732) 872-8041

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