On April 18, 2022, building on New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s recent investments in restoring environmental infrastructure, State Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette announced the launch of a $10 million lakes management grants program that will fund restorative projects to mitigate stormwater and runoff pollution, improving recreation or conservation at public lakes throughout New Jersey.
Local governments, lake commissions, nonprofit organizations and other entities established specifically to manage publicly accessible waterbodies are eligible for the funding.
The funding announcement kicked off Earth Week, which this year had a global theme of Invest in Our Planet.
According to a Request For Proposal (RFP) issued by the Department of Environmental Protection, projects eligible for funding address stormwater management, nonpoint source pollution and related infrastructure needs at public lakes, while maintaining, improving or enhancing recreation, restoration or conservation activities.
“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,” Commissioner LaTourette said. “I encourage all local leaders and organizations in northeastern New Jersey and in the Delaware River Watershed to apply for this grant funding so we help enhance their natural resources and environmental infrastructure.”
Stormwater runoff and nonpoint source pollution can endanger the water quality of lakes. Increased runoff due to climate change carries excessive nutrients and impacts water temperatures, which can harm the ecosystem and contribute to persistent harmful algal blooms.
“This announcement is welcome news to the residents, businesses and vacationers who rely and depend on New Jersey’s public lakes,” said Senate Republican Leader Steven Oroho. “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.”
These issues also can endanger recreational activities, as well as conservation ventures, and potentially have devastating impacts on the local economy of lake communities if critical summer revenue is lost.
“This is an investment in preventing algae blooms that have impacted Lake Hopatcong, Greenwood Lake and other waters in the state,” said Senator Pennacchio. “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.”
Projects that may be eligible for grant funding include:
- 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; and
- Lakes with existing Lake Commissions for lake management activities that will improve water quality and maintain recreational and conservation uses at the waterbody.
“Stormwater runoff has contributed to significant problems in the states two most important destinations for summer recreation in northern New Jersey — Lake Hopatcong and Greenwood Lake,” said Senator Bucco. “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.”
Senators Oroho, Pennacchio and Bucco were the primary sponsors of S3618, which made a supplemental appropriation of $10 million for grants for certain lake management activities for recreation and conservation purposes. The Assembly version was A5778.
Grants are made possible with funds provided under the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
For more information, call Larry Torok, Bureau of Watershed Management, Restoration Unit, at (609) 984-0921.
Funding applications and project proposals must be submitted to the DEP’s Water Quality Restoration Grants Program. Applications are due by Saturday, May 28, 2022.
Proposals for Lakes Stormwater Management Grants must be submitted electronically using the DEP’s System for Administering Grants Electronically (NJDEP SAGE). Registered users will log on and the listing for this RFP will be under “View Available Opportunities” Lakes Management 2022.