FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 16, 2023
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Caryn Shinske (609) 984-1795
Vincent Grassi (609) 984-1795
(23/P030) TRENTON –Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette today kicked off the Murphy Administration’s Infrastructure Investment Tour by announcing the award of more than $1 million in grants to local government agencies in the Hudson-Raritan watershed for neighborhood green infrastructure projects that will reduce stormwater flooding and enhance water quality. The announcement comes during national Infrastructure Week.
“New Jersey’s overall drinking-water and clean-water infrastructure needs are great, an estimated $30 billion,” Commissioner LaTourette said. “The Murphy Administration is committed to partnering with our communities to invest in infrastructure projects that will create jobs, protect public health, and enhance the health of the state’s waterways. We have much work to do, but it is critical to ensuring the health and vitality of the Garden State.”
In the coming weeks, Commissioner LaTourette, on behalf of the Murphy Administration, will be touring the state and meeting with local officials and stakeholders to raise awareness of the need for concerted investments in water infrastructure to advance the state’s Water Infrastructure Investment Plan (WIIP) launched in January 2022. The statewide tour will feature stops in communities that are implementing a variety of strategies, including green infrastructure, to reduce the impacts of stormwater, a growing threat due to increasing precipitation caused by climate change and outdated infrastructure.
The Urban Rain Garden grants announced during a news conference today in Harrison will fund the design and construction of urban rain gardens and similar small-scale bioretention projects that utilize vegetation and soil to absorb and filter stormwater, thereby mitigating flooding and reducing pollution.
The grants are funded through NJDEP’s Office of Natural Resource Restoration, which works with responsible parties to restore natural resources injured by oil spills and other discharges of hazardous substances. Natural Resource Damage settlements obtained by NJDEP are used to enhance natural resources including wetlands, waterways, groundwater, and wildlife habitats for the benefit of the public. Preference was given to projects located in communities with Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) systems or in Overburdened Communities as defined by the DEP.
“We must continue to meet climate change head on through innovative solutions to protect our community from rainfall flooding,” said Hoboken Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla. “This funding is critical to enhancing our resiliency through rain gardens that will not only mitigate flooding but also increase pedestrian safety near our public schools in the form of crucial curb extensions. Thank you to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for providing the City of Hoboken with the financial means necessary to ensure Hoboken can best serve the residents of today and tomorrow.”
“We are grateful for this generous grant and eager to put it to good use to build a rain garden in the heart of our downtown shopping area,” said Belleville Mayor Michael Melham. “We are committed to creating a cleaner and greener Belleville, while continuing to develop beautification projects that can be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.”
“This is a great step in improving the Borough,” said Bergenfield Mayor Arvin Amatorio. “These funds will go directly to creating the rain garden at the PAL field where previous trees and ground cover were taken down prior. Replanting and remediation of the area will allow for better rainwater abatement and will continue to improve our green spaces. As we continue to partner with the state through various grants, we seek to unburden our taxpayers. As stated in our 2017 master plan, we continue to push to preserve and enhance park and recreation facilities in the borough to meet the needs and demands of residents.”
“Congratulations to the green infrastructure grant recipients in the Hudson-Raritan watershed,” said Andrew Kricun, Co-chair for Jersey Water Works, a collaboration of organizations working to improve New Jersey’s water infrastructure. “Green infrastructure is a proven way to reduce the environmental and public health impacts of combined sewer systems while also providing community benefits as well. The NJDEP has been a strong supporter of green infrastructure throughout the State for many years, starting with the first grants awarded in Camden back in 2013.”
NJDEP awarded grants to the following projects:
Throughout the Murphy Administration, the DEP has implemented comprehensive policies and programs to develop long-term solutions to statewide stormwater management and flooding problems that are worsening due to climate change. This month, the DEP launched an interactive dashboard that provides regularly updated information to help local governments and the public track the progress of funding for much-needed drinking water and clean water infrastructure projects that are important to the health and economic vitality of the Garden State.
In urban areas such as the Hudson-Raritan estuary, the DEP is working with communities to implement long-term strategies to better manage combined sewer systems. These systems were built many decades ago to collect rainwater and snowmelt runoff, domestic sewage, and industrial wastewater in the same pipe. Discharges from these systems during overflow periods can flood streets with combined wastewater and stormwater, posing a public health concern. These discharges are also a major source of water quality impairments to local waterways.
Late last year, the DEP issued New Jersey Pollutant Discharge System (NJPDES) permit renewals that lay out schedules for combined sewer overflow reduction projects for the Woodcliff treatment plant and the Town of Guttenberg, both along the Hudson River.
Specifically, the draft permits set forth the schedule for implementation of combined sewer overflow reduction projects including the ongoing expansion of the Woodcliff treatment plant so that it can accept additional combined sewage flows from North Bergen and Guttenberg. The permits also require North Bergen and the Town of Guttenberg to take other steps to reduce combined sewer overflows such as green infrastructure.
In January 2022, the Murphy Administration launched the state’s $1 billion Water Infrastructure Investment Plan (WIIP), an innovative effort to address the state’s water infrastructure challenges through short and long-term investments that will create good-paying jobs while advancing the state’s environmental justice and climate resilience goals.
WIIP is fueled by federal funding provided by the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and relies on continuing state appropriations provided by the Murphy administration and the New Jersey Legislature.
In March, the DEP launched NJ-TAP (New Jersey Technical Assistance Program), a groundbreaking initiative providing enhanced technical assistance to help disadvantaged communities provide safe and reliable drinking water to residents.
NJ-TAP prioritizes aid to communities identified as disadvantaged or overburdened to identify lead service lines, develop asset management and capital improvement plans, and identify sources of state and federal funding to assist with important water-quality improvement projects, the Commissioner announced during a news conference in Harrison, Hudson County. This aid is being provided free of charge to participating water systems.