An anti-litter drive in Manasquan, and an envirnmental project in a Galloway-based summer camp for bright girls, benefit from thousands of dollars in ecology-minded grants issued by New Jersey American Water (NJAW).

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The Manasquan Board Riders' Club, Stockton University American Association of University Women (AAUW), South Orange Township and the Bridgewater Environmental Commission claim shares of $29,000 in NJAW's Environmental Grant Program.

Entering its ninth year, the grant program subsidizes projects aimed at protecting water sources and watersheds. NJAW Director of Water Quality and Environmental Compliance Anthony Matarazzo said that, since the beginning, the company has distributed $254,000 to 32 initiatives and groups.

"Each of these organizations has made a commitment to make a difference within the communities we serve and we are proud to support these projects and the people behind them," Matarazzo said.

The Manasquan Board Riders receive $2,500 for "Leave Only Your Footprints," an ongoing project aimed at reducing or eliminating litter in beaches, parks, coastal waterways and estuaries.

AAUW uses its $10,000 grant for its "Our Water" course in its TechTrek camp, attended by middle-school girls at the top of their classes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Participants in the week-long, interactive course develop environmental protection projects to apply to their home watershed management areas.

Bridgewater Township Environmental Commission's $6,500 grant is dedicated to construction of a native-plant garden that's hospitable to bees, at the township public library. Bridgewater and Somerset County residents have roles in the project.

South Orange receives $10,000 toward the cost of a rain park to filter stormwater runoff before it flows into the East Branch of the Rahway River. The design also includes children's play areas, passive destinations and sustainability displays.

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