OCEAN COUNTY WILL receive a nearly $200,000 Clean Communities Grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection, the largest grant given to a county in 2020, Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said.

Additionally, the county’s 33 municipalities have been awarded a combined $1.34 million in grants, Vicari said.

“When our towns started questioning when and if they would see Clean Community Grants this year, I took the question directly to the Governor’s Office,” Vicari said. “As recently as this week I’ve spoken with the Governor’s staff about the importance of these grants.”

Ocean County’s award of $196,702 was the single largest amount awarded to any of the state’s 21 counties, according to the DEP.

“I want to thank Gov. Phil Murphy and his staff for ensuring that we were given this money,” Vicari said.

The funds will be used to help municipalities and counties remove litter, to beautify neighborhoods, improve water quality and enhance quality of life.

Vicari said the grants are especially important in Ocean County because of the ongoing effort to protect the Barnegat Bay.

“One of the biggest threats to the bay is nonpoint source pollution and litter that washes into rivers and streams and eventually winds up in the bay,” he said. “This money allows our county and municipalities to not only pick up and prevent litter, but to educate residents and visitors alike about the importance of keeping our communities clean.”

According to the DEP, activities funded by Clean Communities grants include cleanups of storm water systems; volunteer cleanups of public properties; adoption and enforcement of local anti-littering ordinances; beach cleanups; public information and education programs; and purchases of litter collection equipment such as receptacles, recycling bins, anti-litter signs and graffiti removal supplies.

The DEP issued $19.4 million in grants this year, including $17.3 million to towns and $2.1 million to counties statewide.

Ocean County’s five largest municipalities – Lakewood, Toms River, Brick, Jackson, Manchester and Berkeley townships will receive a combined $815,982 in state grants, Vicari said.

Berkeley Township Mayor Carmen F. Amato Jr. thanked Freeholder Director Vicari for his efforts to secure the state funding.

“This money is very important to our town,” Amato said. “I want to personally recognize Freeholder Director Vicari for responding quickly to our concerns and ensuring that Berkeley Township was awarded this grant.”

Amato said the township uses the grant money to hire additional summer staff to clean parks and open spaces.

A complete list of grants to the county’s 33 municipalities follows:

BARNEGAT LIGHT $5,572.21 * BARNEGAT $45,844.02

BAY HEAD $4,894.13 * BEACH HAVEN $12,051.83

BEACHWOOD $21,481.42 * BERKELEY $122,649.46

BRICK $159,486.69 * TOMS RIVER $210,009.22

EAGLESWOOD $4,767.10 * HARVEY CEDARS $5,395.08

ISLAND HEIGHTS $4,266.24 * JACKSON $107,743.09

LACEY $70,425.45 * LAKEHURST $4,622.00

LAKEWOOD $112,530.57 * LAVALLETTE $12,161.41

LITTLE EGG HARBOR $52,720.73 * LONG BEACH $40,256.01

MANCHESTER $103,562.84 * MANTOLOKING $4,000.00

OCEAN GATE $4,154.19 * OCEAN $21,284.47

PINE BEACH $5,289.05 * PLUMSTED $17,370.66

P. PLEASANT BEACH $14,483.32 * POINT PLEASANT $39,711.91

SEASIDE HEIGHTS $10,339.15 * SEASIDE PARK $10,624.71

SHIP BOTTOM $9,270.00 * SOUTH TOMS RIVER $5,634.41

STAFFORD $73,806.29 * SURF CITY $11,184.29

TUCKERTON $8,524.36

TOTAL $1,336,116.31