The Garden State may be known for taking care of its lakes after the Murphy Administration announced $10 million in public grants to improve water quality and enhance environmental infrastructure.
The Department of Environment Protection and Commissioner Shawn LaTourette announced the funding to kick off Earth Week April 18, saying it will fund projects ranging from stormwater runoff prevention to conservation efforts that will help fight off harmful algal blooms that have wreaked havoc over the last couple of years in North Jersey.
“Investments such as rain gardens or stormwater improvements to restore and protect natural resources in our watersheds help protect communities from damaging storms, reduce the impacts of climate change that are favorable to harmful algal blooms and improve water quality,” said LaTourette.
Water Quality Restoration Grants Program
Applications for the program will be accepted through May 28.
Funding for the program will be made available through the DEP’s Water Quality Restoration Grants Program, and applicants will be considered for a wide variety of projects:
- Development and/or implementation of Lake Watershed Protection Plans, including updates to existing approved plans statewide;
- Development and implementation of individual lake stormwater/non-point source pollution plans;
- Use of green infrastructure to reduce stormwater runoff in communities with aging combined wastewater-stormwater infrastructure;
- Projects that improve existing stormwater management infrastructure;
- Projects that restore or improve the water quality function of stream and waterbody riparian zones and/or wetland buffers;
- Watershed and lake management activities designed to improve lake water quality and maintain recreational and conservation uses of the qualifying lake;
- Lakes with existing Lake Commissions for lake management activities that will improve water quality and maintain recreational and conservation uses at the waterbody.
State Senators React
State Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho (R-24) along with State Sens. Anthony Bucco (R-25) and Joe Pennacchio (R-26) all supported the measure, much like they previously supported legislation to maintain New Jersey lakes against harmful algae blooms in June 2021.
Oroho: “This announcement is welcome news to the residents, businesses and vacationers who rely and depend on New Jersey’s public lakes. Moving forward on crucial projects to mitigate stormwater runoff and pollution will help preserve the health of our lakes, the safety of the waters, and the economic stability of businesses dependent on water-related tourism revenue. Along with Senators Joe Pennacchio and Anthony M. Bucco, whose districts also include vital and essential lake communities, I applaud this news and we urge qualifying entities to move quickly to apply for available grants.”
Bucco: “Stormwater runoff has contributed to significant problems in the state’s two most important destinations for Summer recreation in Northern New Jersey—Lake Hopatcong and Greenwood Lake. These DEP grants are a step toward mitigating the flow of polluted water into the lakes that contributes to the unchecked weed growth and dangerous algal blooms that have harmed the crucial Summer seasons in recent years. This is an investment in the health of our lakes and the economies of our lake communities.”
Pennacchio: “This is an investment in preventing algae blooms that have impacted Lake Hopatcong, Greenwood Lake and other waters in the state. These grants will help prevent conditions that encourage the growth of algae and strengthen the monitoring of water conditions so these important environmental assets are protected. There is more to be done, but this is a significant development in preserving our lakes for the future.”