New Jersey American Water recently announced the recipients of its 2023 Environmental Grant Program. This year, the company awarded over $40,000 to five organizations and community groups within its service areas that are engaged in sustainability projects to improve water source or watershed protection.
Danielle Kearsley, environmental program lead at New Jersey American Water, emphasizes the vital connection between clean water and the environment, stating: “We understand that clean water is not only essential for people, but also crucial for the well-being of our environment. That’s why we take great pride in providing the funds needed to support these innovative projects. Through investments in the restoration and protection of our watersheds, we actively contribute to the preservation of our precious water sources and the thriving ecosystems they support, helping to ensure their sustainability for generations to come.”
The 2023 Environmental Grant Awardees are as follows:
- Delaware River Greenway Partnership: The Delaware River Greenway Partnership was awarded $7,000 for an all-volunteer litter cleanup and tree planting effort in Belvidere. The cleanup and tree planting effort will benefit the Pequest River — a key Delaware River tributary. The project is expected to enhance community education as well as a collaborative spirit. The vegetation will benefit associated natural amenities within the project area.
- Pinelands Preservation Alliance: The Pinelands Preservation Alliance was awarded $5,000 to plant approximately 50 trees on publicly owned and managed lands in Lumberton Township. The plantings will be located in close proximity to two rain gardens to assist in naturally retaining stormwater to help reduce flooding in the community through green infrastructure. The project will focus on outreach to the residents of Lumberton and will offer a rain garden presentation and design workshop.
- Readington Township Environmental Commission: The Readington Township Environmental Commission was awarded $10,000 to assist in locating the exact source of existing E. coli impacts on the South Branch of the Rockaway Creek in Readington. The Readington Township Environmental Commission will be responsible for collecting the water samples and delivering them to the laboratory, as well as record-keeping. The goal of the project is to determine if the source of the E. coli is due to malfunctioning septic systems or bovine excretions. The project will help ensure that the South Branch of the Rockaway Creek water is free of unacceptable levels of E. coli contamination, aside from ensuring the health and safety of recreational activities. The Rockaway Creek flows in the Lamington River, which flows into the North Branch of the Raritan, which is used as drinking water for more than 1 million people in New Jersey.
- Somerset County Park Commission: The Somerset County Park Commission was awarded $10,000 for a reforestation project located within Duke Island Park to help stabilize the riparian buffer along the lower Raritan River. The project will help with replacing trees lost to Hurricane Ida and the emerald ash borer while ultimately rebuilding the shaded recreation areas and creating habitat for beneficial insects and wildlife. This reforestation project will allow for water quality improvements as native plant root systems will help to filter out toxins and take up water to help alleviate flooding.
- Toms River Environmental Commission: The Toms River Environmental Commission was awarded $8,430 for a pollinator garden in Ortley Beach. The pollinator garden will be constructed on the sandy soil that exists between the parking lot and beach boardwalk between Coolidge Avenue and the oceanfront in Ortley Beach. The pollinator garden will include a vigorous outreach effort, hoping to inspire residents and travelers to incorporate more pollinator inclusive behavior when planting their own gardens.
Established in 2008, the company’s Environmental Grant Program has provided more than $471,000 in funding to 56 innovative, community-based environmental projects that improve, restore or protect the watersheds, surface water and groundwater supplies in communities served by New Jersey American Water.