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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION NEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: 12/21/00
00/153
CONTACT: Loretta O'Donnell or Amy Collings
609-984-1795 or 609-292-2994

DEP AND UNION COUNTY SIGN CONTRACT FOR PLAN TO IMPROVE ELIZABETH, RAHWAY RIVERS
COUNTY TO RECEIVE $400,000

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Shinn and Union County Freeholders today signed a contract to develop a comprehensive management plan to improve the waterways in parts of four counties including Essex, Hudson and Middlesex.

Shinn and Freeholder Chairman Dan Sullivan signed the contract along the Rahway River at Nomahegan Park, part of the county's Greenway in Cranford and Kenilworth. Shinn also presented the freeholders with a $240,000 advance check to begin work.

The watershed, known as Area 7, includes the Elizabeth and Rahway rivers, Woodbridge, Morses and Piles creeks, Newark Bay, Arthur Kill, Kill Van Kull and Upper New York Bay. It covers 250 square miles in 36 towns.

Union County will receive $400,000 for the two-year contract. The county engineering department will be the lead in coordinating a partnership committee and developing the plan with assistance from the other counties and organizations.

Governor Whitman, who initiated the statewide watershed management program, said, "Watershed management planning will help to improve water quality in Union and Hudson counties and throughout New Jersey for years to come."

DEP has now signed contracts with regional representatives for each of the state's 20 watershed management areas. "I'm excited that we now have local watershed planning underway throughout the state. There are water quality challenges to be met in densely populated regions such as Union County, but working together we will produce a plan to reduce various sources of pollution that will enhance this area's waterways," said Shinn.

"These rivers are a vital resource for all Union County residents," said Union County Freeholder Chairman Daniel Sullivan. "We use them for drinking water, transportation, drainage and flood control, recreation and fishing. For the health and safety of all Union County residents, we must protect these waterways."

An Area 7 Watershed Management Partnership Committee will be organized consisting of local agencies, watershed associations, and municipalities. The committee will seek input from other local groups and interested citizens in developing the plan at the partnership's Congress meetings. Task committees will be formed for public outreach and other technical and support work. Upon completion of a draft plan, DEP will seek formal public comment and review prior to adoption.

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