Howell, Jackson will receive Clean Communities grants

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is awarding $21.5 million in annual Clean Communities grants to help municipalities and counties conduct litter cleanups that improve the quality of life in New Jersey’s communities.

The DEP is awarding $19.1 million to eligible municipalities and $2.4 million to the state’s 21 counties. This is a $2.2 million increase from last year, as the result of an increase in revenues. The program is funded by a legislated user fee on manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors that produce litter-generating products, according to a press release from the DEP.

“In addition to being unsightly, litter can have detrimental impacts on water quality, wildlife and natural habitats,” DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe said. “Clean Communities grants provide a vital source of funding for New Jersey’s municipalities and counties. They fund cleanups, many along roadsides and around storm water collection systems, that will protect water quality and natural resources, improving the quality of life in our communities.”

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 the 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.

Howell and Jackson are receiving some the largest grants in the state this year. Howell will receive $122,124 and Jackson will receive $119,496.

Paul Novello, director of the Howell Department of Public Works, commented on the township’s receipt of the grant.

“For 2019, based on prior year funding, we budgeted $109,472. Of that amount, $99,206 goes toward to the salaries of Howell’s full-time certified Clean Communities coordinator and her part-time staff of four workers who patrol and clean up Howell’s streets and parks. The remaining $10,266 goes toward supplies for the cleanup crew, school assemblies and other public awareness initiatives, funds for ‘Adopt a Road’ and scheduled town cleanups,” Novello said.

No one from Jackson was available to comment on the grant the township is receiving from the DEP.

Ocean County will receive the largest grant from the state at $218,091. Monmouth County will receive a $134,389 grant.

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 DEP.