N.J. awards $10M in Barnegat Bay watershed anti-pollution grants

A Barnegat Bay scene from 2012. (Courtesy of Jennifer Husar)

A Barnegat Bay scene from 2012. (Courtesy of Jennifer Husar)

New Jersey is providing nonprofit groups, local governments, and state colleges and universities $10 million in grants to help improve water quality in the environmentally sensitive Barnegat Bay watershed.

The grants are intended to fund projects that reduce impacts from stormwater runoff within the 600 square mile watershed, according to New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe.

“The restoration, enhancement, and protection of a healthy Barnegat Bay is a DEP priority,” she said.

According to the DEP, stormwater runoff carries pollutants into waterways that can cause algae blooms that impact the ecological health of waterways and diminish recreational enjoyment.

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Projects include watershed restoration and protection planning, restoration of wetlands, creation of living shorelines, stewardship and education, stormwater infrastructure mapping, stormwater-basin retrofits, restoration of aquatic vegetation and shellfish, and protection of the bay’s most sensitive habitats.

“Reducing the impacts of stormwater runoff is one of the biggest challenges we face in the Barnegat Bay watershed. We applaud these grant awardees for the passion they have for enhancing and protecting a natural resource that is truly a New Jersey treasure,” McCabe said.

A study by the non-profit Barnegat Bay Partnership estimates that the Barnegat Bay watershed contributes between $2 billion and $4 billion in economic value annually.

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