DEP Offering $10 Million in Grants to Improve Water Quality in Barnegat Bay Watershed

Applicants Urged to Attend Information Session in Tuckerton or Toms River
May 30, 2018
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

The N.J. Department of Environmental Protection is currently accepting applications for $10 million in grants to fund local projects that address stormwater runoff – also known as nonpoint source pollution – to improve water quality in the Barnegat Bay watershed. Nonprofit groups, government agencies and state colleges and universities are encouraged to apply.

“Reducing the impacts of stormwater runoff is one of the biggest challenges we face in improving the ecological health of Barnegat Bay,” said DEP Acting Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “These grants will spur projects … that can be implemented on the local level to improve overall water quality in Barnegat Bay and its watershed.”

The 660-square-mile watershed encompasses all or parts of 37 municipalities in Ocean and Monmouth counties. It is renowned for its fish and shellfish resources, and is popular for fishing, crabbing, bird-watching and exploring nature.

As the DEP explained, “Stormwater runoff carries into waterways pollutants, such as nutrients from fertilizers and animal wastes, as well as automotive fluids and pesticides. Excessive nutrients can cause algae blooms that impact the ecological health of waterways and diminish recreational enjoyment.”

The department is seeking proposals for projects to reduce the input of nutrients, primarily nitrogen, that are transported into the bay via stormwater runoff. Specific nutrient reduction strategies eligible under the grant program include wetland restoration, living shorelines and other resiliency projects, stormwater infrastructure mapping, stormwater basin retrofits, nutrient and pathogen source tracking, submerged aquatic vegetation and shellfish restoration, and stewardship education projects.

The DEP will also consider funding any other project consistent with its DEP Barnegat Bay Restoration, Enhancement and Protection Strategy, available at state.nj.usgov/dep/barnegatbay/docs/BarnBay-REPS.pdf.

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to attend one of the two public information sessions, each of which will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The first is Tuesday, June 12, at the Jacques Cousteau Coastal Education Center, at 130 Great Bay Blvd. in Tuckerton. The second will be Thursday, June 14, at Ocean County College, located at 1 College Drive in Toms River. The latter will be held in Conference Rooms A and B within Building 10.

Applicants must email an electronic copy of their project proposal – in Microsoft Word, PDF or compatible format – by the Aug. 31 deadline to Other larger format documents, such as maps, tables and photos, must be postmarked by the same deadline and mailed to the DEP. For the mailing address and additional information about the state’s Water Quality Restoration Grants Program, visit state.nj.govus/dep/wms/bears/npsrestgrants.html.

Funding for the DEP’s Water Quality Restoration grants are provided by the federal Clean Water Act, Natural Resource Damage settlements the state has secured with polluters, and the state’s corporate business tax. Additional funds are also available in low-interest and principal-forgiveness loans through the New Jersey Water Bank, administered by the DEP in partnership with the New Jersey Water Infrastructure Bank. —J.K.-H.

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