Murphy administration offering $19M in grants to assist municipalities with new stormwater permitting requirements
NEW JERSEY – The Murphy Administration Friday announced the availability of $19 million in grants to help municipalities with the transition to new municipal stormwater permitting system requirements designed to better protect New Jersey’s waterways from pollutants in stormwater.
These permitting changes will also help mitigate localized flooding that is increasing due to climate change.
”The science is clear – New Jersey is facing increasing extreme precipitation as a result of climate change,“ said Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette in advance of the Watershed Institute’s annual Watershed Conference today. ”However, much of our stormwater infrastructure is woefully out of date and no longer up to handling increasing volumes of stormwater. We need to do a better job, including properly sizing our stormwater infrastructure and embracing new approaches that will reduce stormwater impacts to our waterways. This grant program will help municipal governments take the next step toward better protecting their communities and our environment.“
Full details of the Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) will be available at https://nj.gov/dep/wlm/grants/swgrant.html by March 3 and grants will be awarded on a rolling basis through Dec. 31, 2023. Municipalities are encouraged to submit grant applications as soon as possible to get an early award.
As evidenced by extensive flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida in September 2021 and other recent major storms, New Jersey’s stormwater infrastructure is inadequate to handle increasing precipitation. A study commissioned by the DEP by the Northeast Regional Climate Center confirmed increases in precipitation across New Jersey over the last 20 years and projects further increases in precipitation intensity through the end of this century due to climate change.
The DEP under Commissioner LaTourette has prioritized modernizing stormwater infrastructure as part of its overall strategy to make the state more resilient to climate change. This work includes efforts to address combined sewer overflows in urban areas, assist local governments with forming stormwater utilities, and incentivize green infrastructure and related projects to improve the health of watersheds.
In the past, the state used a two-tiered Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit system for nearly all of the state’s municipalities, with the exception of seven that do not have separate municipal stormwater-collection systems. This infrastructure is typically comprised of publicly owned storm drains, outfalls, basins and related infrastructure.
In the past, Tier A permits generally applied to municipalities in highly urbanized parts of the state or coastal watersheds. Tier B municipalities generally included smaller and less developed communities and were largely clustered in western portions of the state.
During a periodic review of the program, the DEP and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreed there were opportunities to better address loadings of nutrients that impact the quality of waterways in Tier B communities.
As of result of this review, the DEP redesignated all 101 previous Tier B municipalities as Tier A in order to help better manage stormwater discharges and resulting pollutant and nutrient impacts to waterways. The redesignated communities were notified of the changes last year.
”The new MS4 permit should be transformational for New Jersey’s waterways,“ said Jim Waltman, Executive Director at The Watershed Institute. ”DEP’s commitment of funding today will help ensure that municipalities can effectively implement the new requirements to address our water pollution and flooding problems.“
”The new stormwater permits are designed to improve the quality of New Jersey’s waters rather than keep it from getting worse. These new DEP grants will ensure that municipal officials have the resources they need to take action and protect and restore our shared waterways,“ said Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions Executive Director Jennifer M. Coffey.
”An estimated 60 percent of New Jersey’s existing water pollution is attributable to stormwater and nonpoint sources of pollution,“ said Lindsey Sigmund, Mainstreaming Green Infrastructure Program Manager for New Jersey Future. ”Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System permits are a crucial tool in improving water quality throughout the state. This new grant funding will provide needed assistance for municipalities facing a number of hurdles in complying with the new MS4 permits through projects such as stormwater infrastructure mapping and planning support for water quality improvements. This funding will help make measurable progress in water quality for all New Jerseyans.“
”We applaud the DEP for continuing to highlight the importance of stormwater management and for giving local communities much-needed on-the-ground support. Localized flooding has been a huge challenge across New Jersey in recent years and, due to the effects of climate change, we know we can expect more frequent, intense storms in the years to come,“ said New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Ed Potosnak. ”Stormwater flooding can devastate homes and businesses, and these resources show our commitment to helping all New Jerseyans, including our most vulnerable communities, better prepare for the stormwater challenges ahead.“
The grant program is funded through the Corporate Business Tax. The 101 newly designated Tier A municipalities may apply for $75,000 in grants. The already existing Tier A municipalities may apply for $25,000 in aid to assist them with implementing enhanced requirements.
Grant money may be used for adoption of stormwater-related ordinances, implementation of a street sweeping program, implementation of municipal maintenance yard, development of best management practices, completion of an MS4 infrastructure map, implementation of an illicit discharge detection and elimination program, required employee training, and completion of watershed improvement plans.
An executive information session for mayors will be held virtually at 11 a.m. on March 10, by invitation only. A virtual information session for all municipal stormwater program coordinators will be held on March 15.
Information on how to participate will be posted at https://nj.gov/dep/wlm/grants/swgrant.html.
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