What is a 319(h) grant?
The full name of the grant funding that we call “319(h) funds” is “The Clean Water Act Section 319(h) Nonpoint Source Pollution grant funds”. These federal funds are distributed at the state level and must be used to implement, plan or assess activities that are consistent with watershed plans that address the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s watershed-based plan elements.
In New Jersey, the Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Policy Implementation and Watershed Restoration chooses grantees each year to work on Watershed Plans. The Musconetcong Watershed Association is working on several projects on which all or part of the funding comes from 319(h) funds. The lead on these projects is North Jersey Resource Conservation & Development Council (NJRC&D), and Rutgers Cooperative Extension is a partner.
The 319(h) project work takes place in or along the river as it flows from Hampton Borough to Bloomsbury Borough, making its way through five municipalities (Hampton Borough, Lebanon, Bethlehem, Washington and Franklin Townships) and two counties (Hunterdon and Warren). Project partners will work over the next 4 years to improve water quality in this section of the River.
The plan details the management measures needed to achieve the necessary Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) reduction in pathogens as well as the measures needed to attain water quality standards for total suspended solids (TSS), and the measures needed to reduce the aquatic life impairments to a non-impaired level. The work focuses efforts on a seven mile stretch of the Musconetcong River, as well as 19 miles of tributaries (i.e., West Portal Brook, Turkey Hill Brook, and 5 unnamed tributaries). The majority of the Musconetcong River and its tributaries are designated as trout production streams with a few designated as trout maintenance waters.
Implementation of this plan will focus on recommended Best Management Practices (BMPs) in agricultural lands (pasturelands and croplands) within the Musconetcong River Watershed, to achieve measurable water quality improvements at the outlet of the watershed. In addition, targeted BMPs will be implemented to decrease pollutant loads and increase groundwater infiltration. The plan also includes implementation of the River-Friendly Programs including those for farms, businesses, residents, and schools; retrofit of stormwater management facilities; installation of bio-retention systems to capture, treat and infiltrate stormwater at the source; riparian buffer planting at sites throughout the watershed to reduce the sediment load that is generated; and non-agricultural riparian buffer restorations.