The $108K in funds will fund environmental efforts
Municipal and county governments are receiving more than $24 million in annual Clean Communities grants to fund litter removal programs, improve water quality, reduce localized flooding and protect natural habitats.
According to New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette, Washington Township is one of them, with a grant of $108,349.
The grant awards were announced in conjunction with an open-house event hosted by the New Jersey Clean Communities Council at Kean University on May 12. This year’s funding represents a nearly $2.7-million increase from last year.
The funds pay for local and county municipalities to conduct cleanups, educate the public and enforce litter-related laws and ordinances. The grant money is generated from taxes paid by businesses that produce litter-generating products, as well as penalties collected for litter-related violations, according to a DEP press release.
“The New Jersey Clean Communities grant program has long been an important resource for local governments across New Jersey, helping them fund programs that remove litter that is unsightly, harms wildlife, degrades water quality and worsens flooding by getting into stormwater-management systems,” LaTourette explained.
“The programs also help remove countless quantities of plastic materials which do not biodegrade and create many serious problems for people, ecosystems and wildlife.”
Grant amounts are based on population; housing units; and miles of municipally owned roadways, as prescribed by state law.
“Local litter abatement programs are more important than ever as we strive to prevent roadway litter from getting into our waterways,” said JoAnn Gemenden, executive director of the council.
“Clean Communities grants provide local governments with critical funds to help create a litter-free New Jersey,” she added, “allowing them to organize volunteer cleanups, purchase cleanup equipment and trash and recycling receptacles for public spaces, promote litter education initiatives, and enhance stormwater management programs.”
The council sponsors public awareness campaigns to educate the public, primarily youth, about the adverse environmental impacts of litter, especially on waterways.
The Clean Communities grant program also funds cleanups of stormwater systems that can disperse trash into waterways; graffiti removal; and purchases of trash receptacles, recycling bins and anti-litter signs.