BELMAR/LAKE COMO, NJ — Belmar and Lake Como has received a total of $21,000 in annual Clean Communities funding by the Department of Environmental Protection, earmarked to assist in litter cleanup activities.

The DEP awarded a total of $19.4 million to municipalities and counties throughout New Jersey with Belmar earning $16,500 and Lake Como $4,490 of Monmouth County's total allocation of $116,500.

"Litter is not only unsightly, it poses a significant threat to our environment because much of it — including plastics that do not degrade readily — is carried by stormwater runoff into our ecologically sensitive waterways and wetlands," Acting Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe said in a release. "Appropriately, some of the areas receiving the largest grants are our cities, where it is particularly important that we focus litter removal efforts."

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The nonprofit New Jersey Clean Communities oversees reporting requirements for the program. Grants are funded by a legislated user-fee on manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors that produce litter-generating products. Disbursements to municipalities are based on the number of housing units and miles of municipally owned roadways within each municipality.

"This funding is critical to our efforts to keep New Jersey clean," said Sandy Huber, executive director of New Jersey Clean Communities. "Municipalities and counties will use Clean Communities grant funding to pay for programs such as volunteer and paid cleanups, equipment purchases, enforcement activities and public education."

Activities funded by Clean Communities grants include cleanups of stormwater 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.

In Belmar, efforts have focused on beach cleanups, and beginning in May 2019, Belmar will also join a handful of communities in the state to prohibit businesses from using single-use plastic bags. In Lake Como, the environmental commission spearheads its initiative to keep the banks of Lake Como litter- and trash-free..

For a complete list of municipal and county grant awards, visit: