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DEP awards Clean Communities grants to counties and municipalities

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The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is awarding $19.4 million in annual Clean Communities grants to help municipalities and counties remove litter to beautify neighborhoods, improve water quality and enhance quality of life, Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced.

In total, the DEP is awarding $17.3 million to eligible municipalities and $2.1 million to the state’s 21 counties. The program is funded by a legislated user fee on manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors that produce litter-generating products, according to a press release.

Ocean County is receiving a $196,702 grant and Monmouth County is receiving a $121,119 grant, according to the press release.

Municipalities receiving some of the largest grants this year are Middletown, $144,268;
Howell, $110,108; and Jackson, $107,743.

“Clean Communities grants help municipalities and counties with the important task of removing unsightly litter, often from roads and around storm water collection systems, to enhance quality of life,” McCabe said. “Beautifying our communities through these types of cleanups helps improve water quality and natural resources while also protecting wildlife and their habitats.”

The nonprofit New Jersey Clean Communities Council oversees the reporting requirements for the program. Disbursements are based on housing units and miles of municipally owned roads, according to the press release.

“Municipalities and counties are strongly encouraged to use these grants to pay for volunteer and paid cleanups, badly needed equipment purchases, enforcement activities and education,” said Sandy Huber, executive director of New Jersey Clean Communities Council.

“We are grateful for funding that helps keep New Jersey clean. We are proud to serve as an educational resource for communities, as we drive many of our campaigns to engage the younger generations to help mold positive, long-term behaviors toward discarding litter,” Huber said.

Litter comes from a variety of sources, such as pedestrians, motorists, overflowing household garbage, construction sites and uncovered trucks, according to the press release. Litter is often blown by the wind until it is trapped somewhere, such as along a fence, or in a ditch or gully.

Activities funded by Clean Communities grants include cleanups of storm water systems that can disperse trash into streams, rivers and bays; volunteer cleanups of public properties; adoption and enforcement of local anti-littering ordinances; beach cleanups; public information and education programs; and purchases of litter collection equipment such as receptacles, recycling bins, anti-litter signs and graffiti removal supplies, according to the press release.

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