By: Lake Hopatcong Foundation
Today is a day for celebration as Governor Murphy has signed the $10M Lakes Funding Bill (S-3618/A-5778), which makes a supplemental appropriation of $10 million to be used for management and maintenance efforts of New Jersey’s lakes for recreation and conservation purposes.
The lakes funding bill was drafted, advanced, and advocated by our local delegation in Trenton and supported by legislators throughout the state who recognized the importance of Lake Hopatcong and New Jersey's Lakes. This achievement represents many months of labor in which we have played an active role, including testifying in support of the Bill before the NJ Senate Environment & Energy Committee. Many thanks to Senators Bucco, Oroho, Pennacchio, and Assembly members Bergen, Dunn, Wirths, DeCroce, Webber, Space, our Mayors, County Administrators, and elected officials for their assistance and support.
The Governor’s signature on this bill represents a significant step towards protecting New Jersey’s lakes!
Below is a release from our friends and partner, the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed.
The $10 million supplemental appropriation for grants for certain lake management activities for recreation and conservation purposes is the most significant investment in the Lake Hopatcong and Greenwood Lake areas in recent history. The bill recognizes that in these ecologically significant regions, lakes play a critical role to residents throughout the State by providing the supply of drinking water, watershed protection, recreational and conservation purposes.
Advocating for substantial funding of New Jersey’s lakes is a main priority of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, a network of more than 160 nonpartisan organizations, 37 in NJ, working to protect and restore the 4-state region of New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.
“The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed thanks Governor Murphy, and Senators Pennacchio, Oroho, and Bucco for their leadership in prioritizing clean water and robust funding for our lakes,” said Kelly Knutson, Interim Director, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed. “The new lakes funding law will fund projects that improve water quality, increase recreational access, and conduct efforts to control nutrient levels in lakes to prevent harmful algal blooms.”
“Not only do our lakes provide millions of New Jersians a place to recreate and enjoy the outdoors, they are also a critical habitat for many of our wildlife species. Due to the warmer temperatures, harmful algae blooms (HABS) have affected our lakes by producing chemicals that can be toxic to humans and wildlife,” said Dr. Eileen Murphy, Vice President of Government Relations for New Jersey Audubon. “Thanks to the leadership in the NJ legislature, as well as Governor Murphy, the $10 million Lakes Funding Bill will address algal blooms and weed proliferation that have threatened wildlife and swimming for years.”
Harmful algal blooms occur when colonies of microscopic algae or bacteria grow at exponential rates and produce toxins harmful to humans and wildlife. Exposure to these algal blooms can cause a range of health effects, including skin rashes, allergy-like reactions, flu-like symptoms, gastroenteritis, respiratory irritation and eye irritation. The issuance by the DEP of “no contact” advisories or other warnings cautioning against contact with the water in certain lakes due to the presence of harmful algal blooms directly impacts the public’s use of lakes for recreation and conservation purposes.
“Lakes are arguably one of New Jersey’s greatest resources. They provide access for millions of New Jersey state residents to enjoy swimming, fishing, boating, picnics, and general enjoyment of the outdoors,” said Marty Kane, Board of Trustees Chairman for the Lake Hopatcong Foundation. “Unfortunately, in recent years our lakes have been seriously challenged by harmful algal blooms and invasive species being spurred by the increased year-round temperatures. This legislation recognizes the importance of protecting and helping New Jersey’s lakes and we are very grateful to the legislature and Governor.”
“Congratulations to the Lake Hopatcong Foundation for their leadership in helping to secure funding for management and maintenance efforts of New Jersey’s lakes. We are happy to see the health and safety of those who rely on the lakes for recreation and business being prioritized, “said Rebecca Hilbert, NJ State Lead, Coalition of the Delaware Watershed (CDRW) and Policy Assistant, NJ League of Conservation Voters. “We also look forward to working with elected officials and residents of lake communities to develop long term solutions to pollution and stormwater management.”
The bill provides priority funding for stormwater and nonpoint source pollution management activities, if those activities would directly enhance, improve, or protect the use of the lake for recreation and conservation purposes, particularly to control harmful algal blooms in the future.
Although this $10 million supplemental appropriation is critical to funding protection and restoration projects for NJ lakes, we will continue to work with lawmakers and partners to advocate for recurring State funding for the future of the lakes.