(The Center Square) – The state Senate has approved a measure to allocate $10 million from New Jersey’s general fund for grants to manage lakes, including recreation activities and conservation.
The legislation, Senate Bill 3618, would require the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop a process to evaluate and rank grant applications. In addition, it would have to prioritize projects in the Highlands and Pinelands regions that improve water quality and increase recreational access, including efforts to control nutrient levels in lakes to prevent algal blooms.
“Our lake communities have been devastated in back-to-back years by the financial impact of algal blooms and the coronavirus pandemic,” state Senator Steve Oroho, R-Sussex, said in a news release. “After they’ve suffered so much, it is even more critical that the State step up to meet the need. With this substantial appropriation, we will help these important lakes remain healthy and open to the public.”
The bill would require the DEP to approve applications submitted by the Greenwood Lake Commission and the Lake Hopatcong Commission, and each commission is guaranteed to receive a grant of at least $750,000.
“Lake Hopatcong and Greenwood Lake are two of the most important destinations for summer recreation in northern New Jersey, so it’s important we guarantee them a significant level of funding,” state Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Boonton, said in a news release. “This money will help these lakes address algal blooms and weed proliferation that have threatened both boating and swimming for many years. It’s my hope that this appropriation is just the first step in securing recurring State funding for the future needs of our lakes.”