NEW JERSEY – The Senate Environment Committee has advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Pennacchio, Senator Steven Oroho, and Senator Anthony M. Bucco to supply critical funding to maintain Lake Hopatcong, Greenwood Lake, and other lakes in the Highlands and Pinelands regions of New Jersey.
“Our lakes are critical to the ecological and economic well-being of New Jersey, but they have been consistently underfunded by the State,” Pennacchio (R-26) said. “This appropriation represents the most significant investment in Lake Hopatcong and Greenwood Lake in recent memory, if not ever. We’ll continue fighting to make this funding permanent to ensure our lakes get the support they need each and every year.”
The legislation, S-3618, makes a supplemental appropriation of $10 million for grants for certain lake management activities for recreation and conservation purposes.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would be required to develop a process for evaluating and ranking applications for grants, with priority given to projects improving water quality and increasing recreational access, including efforts to control nutrient levels in lakes to prevent harmful algal blooms.
The bill also provides priority funding for projects located in the Highlands Region and Pinelands area in recognition of the critical role lakes in these ecologically significant locations provide in the supply of drinking water to residents throughout the State, watershed protection, and for recreation and conservation purposes.
“Our lake communities have been devastated in back-to-back years by the financial impact of algal blooms and the coronavirus pandemic,” Oroho (R-24) said. “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.”
Further, the legislation requires the DEP to approve applications submitted by the Greenwood Lake Commission and the Lake Hopatcong Commission, with each commission guaranteed a minimum grant award of $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,” Bucco (R-25) said. “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.”