$3.2M in grants awarded for water quality improvement

In marking National Drinking Water Week, NJ DEP Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson announced the award of $3.2 million in grants to various local groups and government entities that will fund projects to improve the health of New Jersey's waterways. Each year, the nation's water suppliers and environmental agencies observe National Drinking Water Week to draw attention to the importance of protecting and conserving drinking water supplies, a vital resource that is often taken for granted...

TRENTON, NJ, May 7, 2008 -- In marking National Drinking Water Week, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson today announced the award of $3.2 million in grants to various local groups and government entities that will fund projects to improve the health of New Jersey's waterways.

"The surest path to clean and abundant drinking water is to protect and enhance supplies at the source," Commissioner Jackson said. "Stormwater runoff is the biggest threat to surface waters, accounting for 60 percent of the pollution in our lakes, rivers and streams. These grants provide the financial resources local governments and nonprofits need to tackle this type of pollution and improve the overall ecological health of their watersheds."

Each year, the nation's water suppliers and environmental agencies observe National Drinking Water Week to draw attention to the importance of protecting and conserving drinking water supplies, a vital resource that is often taken for granted.

One of many ways the DEP is working to protect water supplies at the source is through a program that provides grants for local projects that mitigate the effects of stormwater runoff on lakes, rivers and streams.

Stormwater runoff contains nutrients, frequently from the application of lawn fertilizers or excessive animal droppings, and other pollutants that degrade water quality. When improperly controlled, stormwater runoff also exacerbates erosion that leads to excessive sedimentation in waterways.

Reducing these impacts decreases the complexities and costs of drinking-water treatment while improving the overall ecological health and aesthetic value of New Jersey's waterways.

The grant program, funded by the federal government through a provision in the Clean Water Act, has resulted in important water-quality improvements, including significant reductions in the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen released to waterways.

In awarding individual grants, the DEP evaluates each project's ability to achieve high levels of pollution reduction, its likelihood of sustaining success, and its cost-effectiveness.

For a list of grant recipients and projects, see: http://www.nj.gov/dep/newsrel/2008/08_0030.htm

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