State Grants Expand Watershed’s Impact

Two grants recently announced by the state Department of Environmental Protection will bolster key efforts by the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association to monitor and improve water quality throughout New Jersey.

Both of the three-year grants allow the Watershed to further existing efforts to assess and identify water quality issues as well as implement remedies.

“These grants will increase the Watershed’s impact by finding solutions for local issues and by expanding the reach of our successful water quality monitoring program by citizen scientists throughout the state,” said Jim Waltman, Executive Director of the Watershed. “Our staff scientists and new laboratory equipment give us the tools and expertise to handle both projects and fulfill our mission to keep water clean, safe and healthy.”

A $400,000 grant will help the Watershed restore water quality on four sites along Beden Brook in Hopewell Borough through a variety of approaches, including assessments of impervious cover and installing of green infrastructure.

The second $240,000 grant will be used to expand the Watershed’s water monitoring by volunteers throughout New Jersey in collaboration with the state DEP.

Watershed staff will identify nonprofits, green teams and local government agencies in the 20 watershed management areas in New Jersey and build a network to monitor water quality.

“We are very excited about this opportunity,” said Steve Tuorto, Science Director at the Watershed. “We’re in this terrific position where we’ve used our water quality and land assessment data to identify an area in need of restoration. Now we get to actually implement the projects we’ve suggested, and then monitor the impacts of the restorations as well.”

Added Erin Stretz, Assistant Director of Science and Stewardship, “We’ve always said our Stream Watch program isn’t just about collecting data, but we will use the information for action.”

Polluted stormwater runoff is the most significant issue affecting water quality of lakes, rivers, streams, estuaries and other waterways in the state, according to the NJDEP.

The funds come from DEP’s Water Quality Restoration Grants aimed at controlling polluted stormwater runoff. These grants access state corporate business tax, Natural Resource Damage settlements secured by DEP and money from the federal EPA’s Clean Water Act.