NJ legislators move Greenwood Lake funding bills forward

West Milford. Greenwood Lake is closer to getting some $500,000 in annual funding with two bills clearing their respective committees Thursday.

14 Nov 2019 | 03:51

State Assembly bill A3804 and its State Senate counterpart, S2167, both passed through their respective committees Thursday, which could bring some $500,000 in annual funding to Greenwood Lake, officials announced.

State Assemblyman Jay Webber, R-26, said his bill, A3804, passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee, and would create a fund to preserve the state’s second largest lake.

“Greenwood Lake is a great natural, economic and recreational resource for New Jersey, supplying more than 3 million of our residents with drinking water daily,” Webber said in a press release. “Establishing annual funding dedicated to this essential waterway and reservoir will ensure the lake is preserved and protected now and for many years to come.”

Greenwood Lake Commission Co-Chairman Paul Zarrillo said he was very happy with the bills’ movement as he traveled back from Trenton Thursday afternoon.

“It’s all good news,” Zarrillo said. “It passed the committee unanimously.”

Zarrillo said the legislation has already passed the state senate and now goes to the assembly for a vote.

If successful, it would then end up on Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk for a final signature to become law.

“I can’t imagine they would not pass this,” Zarrillo said. “It is a critical body of water.”

Zarrillo said the nine-mile lake, which is shared by both New Jersey and New York, is one of the most important bodies of water in the state.

It feeds both the Monksville and Wanaque reservoirs, providing drinking water to 3.5 million residents and thousands of businesses, according to the legislation.

The legislation would fund the annual $500,000 through vessel registration fees.

Zarrillo thanked the sponsors of both the senate and assembly versions of the bill, including State Sen. Joe Pennacchio, R-26.

“He came down and testified in front of the committee,” Zarrillo said. “He deserves a lot of credit.”

Zarrillo also thanked the bill’s other sponsors in both the senate and assembly.

Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittle said passing the legislation would go a long way in helping keep the lake clean.

“We support this bill because Greenwood Lake is a critical water supply source for the state. It is not only a source for the Wanaque and Monksville Reservoir systems, but it’s a back-up water supply source,” Tittle said in a statement Thursday. “Dredging and cleaning Greenwood Lake will help enhance water quality statewide, especially in case of a drought and climate change. New Jersey’s reservoirs and lakes have succumbed to algae blooms in an unprecedented way. It is critical that we protect these precious bodies of water, especially when climate impacts are becoming worse.”

The state Department of Environmental Protection issued a “no contact” advisory on the lake in July after it confirmed the existence of a Harmful Algal Bloom.

That advisory has yet to be lifted.

That advisory proved devastating to businesses and properties along the lake in New Jersey, and Zarrillo hopes this funding can help prevent similar events in the future.

The legislature has until the end of the year to get this passed or the process will begin all over again with the new assembly and senate in January.

“I can’t imagine they would not pass this. It is a critical body of water.” -Greenwood Lake Commission Co-Chairman Paul Zarrillo