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RELEASE: 12/4/00
CONTACT: Loretta O'Donnell or Amy Collings
(609) 984-1795 or 292-2994



Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Shinn today signed a contract with the Bergen County Department of Health Services to develop a comprehensive watershed management plan to protect and improve water quality in the northeast corner of the state.

The Bergen County Department of Health Services will receive $400,000 for the two-year contract and a total of $600,000 over four years to complete the scope of work.

The plan will encompass the 165 square-mile watershed, known as Area 5, which covers parts of 61 municipalities in Bergen and Hudson counties. Area 5 covers the Hackensack River, Hudson River and Pascack Brook watersheds which also includes Berry's, Overpeck and Wolf creeks, as well as Lake Tappan and Oradell Reservoir.

Commissioner Shinn presented an advance check of $168,300 to County Health Director Mark Guarino and County Executive Director William "Pat" Schuber at a ceremony held at Liberty State Park, Jersey City.

Bergen County is working in partnership with a consortium of organizations including the Hackensack Riverkeeper, the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission, United Water Co., Rutgers University in Newark, and Fairleigh Dickinson University.

DEP has signed contracts and awarded funds to local partners for nearly all of New Jersey's designated 20 watershed management areas to start planning statewide this year.

Governor Whitman, who initiated the watershed management program, said, "For the millions of people who enjoy the Hudson and Hackensack rivers, this watershed plan will improve water quality and protect these priceless resources for years to come."

"Working together, we will produce a plan that will protect the Hackensack and Hudson River watershed by identifying strategies to reduce various sources of non-point source pollution. Controlling nonpoint, or "people" pollution, requires everyone's understanding and involvement to reduce the impacts on waterways," said Shinn.

The county will seek input from other local groups and interested citizens in developing the plan at the partnership's meetings. Task committees will conduct 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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