Restoring funding to Section 314 of the Clean Lakes Program in the Clean Water Act
The Clean Lakes Program was created in 1972 and was established under Section 314 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, later known as the Clean Water Act. Clean Lakes Program grants provided funds under Section 314 to help assess the water quality of lakes in a state or tribe, conduct diagnostic feasibility studies to identify the causes of pollution in the lake, implement projects to solve the problems and post restoration assessments. Between 1976 and 1995 the Clean Lakes Program awarded approximately $145 million in grants. The program has not received any funding since 1995.¹
Lake water quality is declining across the nation despite existing efforts and funding. The number of healthy unpolluted lakes has been declining. The most recent National Lakes Assessment (NLA) found across the country that 45% of lakes are in poor condition with elevated phosphorus concentrations, and 46% were in poor condition with high nitrogen concentrations.² Nutrient pollution, high levels of algae growth, and diminished water clarity are increasing and were observed in 24% of the nation’s lakes.² The algal toxins known as microcystins, which can be harmful to humans and pets, were detected in 21% of lakes. ² Based on biological indicators, 24% of continental U.S. lakes were in poor condition for lake life.
When the 314 Clean Lakes program funding was discontinued in 1995, Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, which provides funds for implementing projects that address nonpoint source water pollution was left to provide some funding for lake restoration. Recent queries of the 319-tracking system indicate that a small percentage of 319 funds are used for lake restoration activities. Limited Section 319 funding is available for lake diagnostic studies, protection of high quality lakes, and in-lake measures that can address harmful algal blooms that can be toxic to humans and pets.
A far-reaching crisis looms for lake associations in the State of New Jersey due to the inability of voluntary dues-paying lake associations to adequately fund and comply with ever increasing state, environmental, safety and health codes, rules and regulations. Unless fair sharing by all members / residents of a lake association is mandated and maintained into perpetuity, the future of many lake associations and, specifically, their mandate to safeguard the health and safety of their residents, is threatened. The gravity of the matter is ever intensifying.
Unless properly addressed and rectified, the growing financial burden will be beyond the ability of voluntary dues-paying associations to meet. This will shift the funding burden to municipalities and the State, entities already burdened in meeting their own annual budgets. Thus, eventual and likely inevitable deterioration of lake water quality will ensue and health issues will arise.
Over the past 30 years, NJCOLA, presently representing more than 70 lake organizations within the State of New Jersey, focused on implementing and supporting their Mission purposes as defined below. Given the pending crisis, it is now very evident that advocacy attention must also be devoted to the financial security and sustainability of all lake associations within the State. The future of our lake associations, far-reaching implications in terms of health and safety, and indeed our way of life depend on the actions we take today. Please read the letter sent by me as President of NJCOLA to the Governor of the State of New Jersey imploring him not to approve pending Bill S3661 / A5043 Amendments.The burden of a lake association to meet their obligations to all members / residents must be shared by all those members and/or residents. Mandated dues is the only fair and equitable course of action.
On October 6, 2017, the New Jersey Division of Consumer, Environmental and Occupational Health (AKA State Health Department) published proposed repeals and new rules to the State Bathing Code. Click here to download this document.
These new proposals would significantly impact all recreational bathing facilities with financial, economic and social burdens. Some of the proposals involve requiring increased staffing at pools and facilities, having local Health Departments dictate the number of staff, AEDs whenever a Lifeguard is on duty, equipment, inspections, and new water sample testing. Most of which will increase costs to our members.
On behalf of its members, NJCOLA reviewed the changes carefully and a response was sent from NJCOLA in partnership with Richard D. Carlson, Jr., Waterfront Director Lake Mohawk Country Club (LMCC) and Barbara Wortmann, Interim General Manager, Lake Mohawk Country Club (LMCC) on November 6th to meet the deadline for responses. Click here to read this response.
At COLA's Annual Meeting on November 9, 2017, Richard Carlson presented the impacts of the proposed Bathing Code changes. Click here to view this presentation.
On January 18, 2018, the official version of the Revised NJ State Bathing Code, was issued by the NJ Department of Health. Click here to view or download the current regulations.
Past Advocacy COLA actions: