N.J. seeks grant proposals for local projects combating harmful algal blooms

Algae floats in the water at the Maumee Bay State Park marina in Lake Erie in Oregon, Ohio. (Paul Sancya/AP Photo)

Algae floats in the water at the Maumee Bay State Park marina in Lake Erie in Oregon, Ohio. (Paul Sancya/AP Photo)

New Jersey officials are seeking proposals for local projects that improve water quality and help prevent, mitigate, and manage harmful algal blooms in the state’s waterways.

In November, Gov. Phil Murphy announced the $13.5 million fund to combat the blooms that impacted major recreational waterbodies last summer. The fund will also allow communities to make infrastructure upgrades to reduce a primary cause of algal blooms, the discharge of runoff containing nutrients.

The grant programs are available to government agencies, county planning departments, health departments, state universities and colleges, and local nonprofit organizations.

In 2019, state officials reported 70 suspected and 39 confirmed harmful algal blooms, an increase over the previous two years, including the popular Lake Hopatcong. At the Jersey Shore, a bacteria, known as “cyanobacteria” or blue-green algae, was found in the 770-acre Manasquan Reservoir.

The bacteria could cause gastroenteritis, skin irritation, and allergic responses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s the second major environmental grant program announced this year. In May, the state announced a $10 million grant program to help improve water quality in the environmentally sensitive Barnegat Bay watershed.

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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