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New Jersey Conservation Organizations Partner on Continued Clean Water Efforts

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Trenton, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) recently awarded Water Quality Restoration Grants for nonpoint source pollution to local organizations working to improve water quality in the Delaware River. These projects help further the work that these organizations collaborate on in partnership through the Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI), a multi-state, collaborative effort working to improve water quality in the greater Delaware River Watershed.

“Protecting New Jersey’s water is critical to our ecosystems and the quality of life in the New Jersey Highlands Region and our communities in the Delaware River Watershed,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “We applaud the community leaders for their continued efforts to protect their lakes and waterways from the effects of phosphorus and other contaminants that can lead to public health risks.”

Each year, NJDEP receives funding from the US Environmental Protection Agency to address nonpoint source pollution. NJDEP awards this funding as water quality restoration grants to local organizations to develop watershed-based plans and implement projects working to reduce state water quality use impairments, identified on New Jersey’s list of impaired water bodies.

“The NJDEP recognized the Delaware River Watershed as a focus for Water Quality Restoration Grant awards this funding cycle,” remarked Jay Springer, NJDEP Division of Water Monitoring and Standards, noting that environmental organizations in this region have a demonstrated history of working collaboratively and successfully with NJDEP to reduce nutrient loading and improve water quality.

The Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) has been awarded funding to update its 2012 river restoration plan that ranged from Hampton Borough to Bloomsbury Borough on the Musconetcong River. The new plan will expand its reach to Hackettstown and work to reduce bacteria pollution to the Musconetcong River and improve aquatic wildlife habitat.

“This grant award will allow us to update the plan to reflect all of the great work MWA and our partners have done in the watershed in the last nine years,” said Kyle Richter, Watershed Programs Manager, “Having an updated and expanded plan will give a better understanding of current conditions in the watershed allowing us to be more strategic about our work in the future.

The Wallkill River Watershed Management Group (WRWMG), operating under the administrative umbrella of the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority will work to build on the momentum of successful projects under its DEP-approved Watershed Restoration and Protection Plan for the Upper Paulins Kill Watershed, by developing an Upper Paulins Kill Lakes Community Rain Garden Assistance Program, a floating treatment wetlands pilot program, and an emerald ash borer tree canopy replacement and resiliency program.

“This funding will be critical for expanding the impact of the WRWMG’s Paulins Kill Lakes Initiative,” said Kristine Rogers, Watershed Education and Outreach Specialist for the SCMUA-Wallkill River Watershed Management Group. “Our program is informing residents about the negative impacts of polluted stormwater runoff and empowering community members to take action on their own properties to protect the health of local rivers, streams, and lakes.”

North Jersey RC&D will work with farmers to implement agricultural best management practices on farms in Hunterdon, Sussex, and Warren counties. The project includes shovel-ready farmstead management projects at cattle and dairy operations, as well as, increasing opportunities for farmers to implement sustainable field practices that build soil health. Through implementation, stormwater runoff from farms will be reduced, preventing nutrients, bacteria and sediment from entering local streams and waterways. North Jersey RC&D works closely with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to assist farmers in utilizing federal cost share programs towards conservation.

“Farmers steward our land and water resources,” remarked Laura Tessieri, Executive Director of North Jersey RC&D, “but the reality is that many conservation practices are economically cost-prohibitive; particularly if a large farmstead manure management project is necessary or if the farmer is transitioning to no-till or cover crop where yield may be initially affected. This grant helps farmers off-set risk by providing technical and financial assistance towards projects that are good for farming operations and for the community.”

Multiple strategies are necessary to successfully reduce nutrients and impact the health of our waterways. Conservation groups, with assistance from state and federal agencies, and the William Penn Foundation, have been working strategically in New Jersey to reduce nutrients to achieve long term water quality improvements.

MWA, WRWMG, North Jersey RC&D, and other northern NJ non-profits are working collaboratively as part of the Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI) to “protect the rivers and streams that provide drinking water for more than 13 million people.” To learn more about the DRWI and the other organizations involved in this effort, visit