NEW JERSEY – 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 has been signed into law.
“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 newly approved funding represents the most significant investment in Lake Hopatcong and Greenwood Lake in recent memory, if not ever. We’ll continue fighting to make this appropriation 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 law requires the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) 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 law 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 important that the State step up to meet the need. Now that this substantial appropriation has been approved, we have critical new resources to help these important lakes remain healthy and open to the public.”
Further, the law 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 infusion of money will help address algal blooms and weed proliferation on these lakes 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.”