NJDEP Provides $13.5 Million to Address Harmful Algal Blooms

TRENTON, NJ — The NJ Department of Environmental Protection is making $13.5 million in funding available for local projects to improve water quality and help prevent, mitigate and manage harmful algal blooms in lakes and ponds, building upon the state’s HAB response strategy announced by Gov. Phil Murphy in November.

According to the DEP, “Harmful algal blooms, also known as HABs, are not true algal blooms. Rather, they are caused by naturally occurring cyanobacteria that can reproduce to unhealthful levels under certain conditions, including sunlight, nutrients from sources such as fertilizers and improperly operating septic systems, warm weather and stagnant water. They frequently form dense mats, resembling pea soup or spilled paint.”

Exposure to blooms can cause adverse health effects, including rashes, allergy-like reactions, flu-like symptoms, gastroenteritis, respiratory irritation and eye irritation. Exposure to a bloom that is actively producing cyanotoxins may even result in liver toxicity and neurological consequences. People, pets and wildlife are all susceptible if they come into contact with or ingest water experiencing a bloom.

“Harmful algal blooms are creating real hardships for the people of New Jersey, affecting livelihoods, local economies and tourism,” DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe said. “The Murphy administration is committed to moving forward quickly to make financial resources available for local projects that will reduce the occurrence of harmful algal blooms, improving our quality of life and better protecting public health and the environment.”

The DEP has formally issued requests for proposals for $3.5 million in grants to fund planning and projects to help local management, response and mitigation of HABs through proven and innovative projects. This program is open to a wide variety of potential applicants, including local government agencies, academic institutions and nonprofits.

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