BELMAR/LAKE COMO, NJ — Belmar and Lake Como will rake in a total of $23,551 in state funding this year to help keep both communities clean.

The N.J. Department of Environmental Protection is awarding $21.5 million in annual Clean Communities grants to assist municipalities and counties in their litter cleanup activities — an increase of $2.2 million increase from last year.

Of Monmouth County’s total $134,289 allocation, Belmar will receive $18,433, up nearly $2,000 from its 2018 award, and Lake Como $5,118, rising some $600 from the previous year.

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"In addition to being unsightly, litter can have detrimental impacts on water quality, wildlife and natural habitats," Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe said in a press release. "Clean Communities grants provide a vital source of funding for New Jersey's municipalities and counties. They fund cleanups … that will protect water quality and natural resources, improving the quality of life in our communities."

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.

“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 New Jersey Clean Communities Council. “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.”

That has been the focus particularly in Lake Como, where students of Academy Charter High School volunteer several times a year to pick up litter along the banks of Lake Como and borough streets — a community service effort spearheaded by the borough’s environmental commission.

In May, Belmar took a major step to reduce the most common type of trash littering its beaches — plastic — by banning the use of single-use plastic bags in commercial establishments.

READ MORE: Ban on Plastic Bags Goes into Effect Today for Belmar Businesses

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.

For a complete list of municipal and county grant awards, visit: www.njclean.org.

TAPinto Belmar/Lake Como is Belmar and Lake Como’s only free daily newspaper. Accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, it is the official electronic newspaper of both municipalities. As a locally owned news organization, TAPinto through its advertisers is able to publish online, objective news 24/7 at no charge. Sign up for its free daily e-News, and follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

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