New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that his administration will distribute more than $13 million to fund a new initiative to reduce and prevent future harmful algal bloom outbreaks in New Jersey. The program will fund science-based prevention, mitigation, study and response efforts across the state.
In 2019, there were more than 70 suspected and 39 confirmed harmful algal blooms in New Jersey, which is higher than the previous two years. The new initiative includes:
•$2.5 million available as matching funds for lakes and harmful algal bloom management grants, including treatment and prevention demonstration projects. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will issue a request for proposals in December and will offer a 100 percent match, resulting in $5 million in total projects.
• Up to $1 million in Watershed Grant funding available for planning and projects that reduce the nonpoint source pollution, including nutrients, that contribute to harmful algal blooms in surface waters of the State. A match will not be required but will improve the project ranking.
• $10 million in principal forgiveness grants through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for half of the cost, capped at $2 million, of sewer and stormwater upgrades to reduce the flow of nutrients to affected waterbodies.
The initiative will establish a team of experts from across various sectors to evaluate the state’s strategies to prevent harmful algal bloom outbreaks and pursue additional monitoring, testing and data management capacity.
The initiative also increases the Department of Environmental Protection’s ability to communicate with affected communities. The Department will host two regional harmful algal bloom summits in early 2020 to better share information ahead of the warmer months when harmful algal blooms begin to appear. To assist with this effort, the Department will also develop new web tools to better communicate HAB incidents. The Department will continue to assist local governments with stormwater and septic discharge compliance and investigate facilities near waterbodies to ensure compliance with discharge permits.