Governor Christie says New Jersey is providing $20 million in grants to local and county governments to fund projects to protect Barnegat Bay.
He says progress has been made in preventing fertilizer and contaminants from getting into the state’s largest estuary and harming aquatic life.
“The northern part is getting better but there’s more work to do. The other parts of the bay, we want to try to make sure that they don’t degrade any further. And our efforts have made sure that didn’t happen. This next stop is necessary to accelerate that improvement in the northern part of the bay.”
The grants will pay for more projects to improve wetlands, upgrade storm water infrastructure, and conduct long-term water quality monitoring of the bay and its tributaries.
Toms River Mayor Tom Kelaher says the Barnegat Bay is a jewel in the communities that border it.
“If the Barnegat Bay is in trouble, we’re all in trouble because it’s such a vital part of our economy that we just cannot get by without it. So many people have a livelihood based on it. So many people every year have a wonderful time sailing and fishing and so on.”
Christie says Barnegat Bay is a major contributor to the state’s $44 billion tourism industry. And he says he long term restoration of the bay has been one of the top priorities of his administration.
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin hopes the next administration will continue the plan to reduce sources of contamination and ensure the ecological recovery of the bay.
“We’ve got two dozen scientists that are working with us on this over time. So those scientists are brought in for a lot of these projects. We’re going to hopefully over the long haul keep them in place so we’re able to measure that.”