NJ lawmaker seeks funding to clean up harmful algal blooms
Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, R-Morris, has introduced legislation to help pay for removal of hazardous green slime that plagued lakes in a few towns last year.
Harmful algal blooms showed up in Greenwood Lake and Lake Hopatcong last summer.
Exposure to the harmful algal blooms could cause allergic reactions, flu-like symptoms, gastroenteritis, respiratory irritation and eye irritation. The blooms were likely a result of heavy rainfall carrying nutrient-rich stormwater into the lakes during warm weather.
Local officials have been looking for ways to pay for remediation and Gov. Phil Murphy in January vetoed a measure that would have paid for the cleanup.
DeCroce's bill — A-2864 — would allow a portion of the corporate business tax revenues to go for local grants to match state funds in remediating the blooms.
DeCroce says cash-strapped towns would need to find more money to pay for their part of the algae cleanup.
"The state has to step up to the plate and take responsibility and stop shifting it to the local residents to again pay for things that will increase their property taxes .. if businesses go out of business and there's more foreclosures."
The proposal would allow the constitutionally dedicated corporate business tax revenues in the Watershed Management Fund to be used for grants to local governments to fund sewer and storm water infrastructure projects that reduce pollution pouring into waterways – a key cause of the HABs.
The bill also would explicitly allow these grants to be used as matching funds for other state and federal grant programs designed to keep lakes clean.
Joe Cutter is the senior news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.