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Lakes low on priority list in Sandy recovery

| Monday, July 22, 2013, 7:33 p.m.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses a gathering Monday, July 15, 2013, in Highlands, N.J., after Yousef Al Otaiba, United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States, announced a $4.5 million donation from the UAE to the charity founded by Gov. Christie's wife, Mary Pat Christie to help those impacted by Superstorm Sandy. The gift from the UAE embassy will be used for repairing and enhancing technology infrastructure at public schools in nine school districts impacted by the storm. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

ASBURY PARK, N.J. — Superstorm Sandy slammed New Jersey's coastal lakes, saddling many with sand and debris, but eight months since the storm, they remain a lower priority than beaches, according to environmental advocates.

At least 15 scenic lakes need sand, debris or fallen trees removed, and many pose flood threats to neighboring homes. Several lakes have overflowed during heavy rainstorms in recent weeks.

“The coastal lakes have been mostly forgotten,” said Edward Bonanno, chairman of the Avon Environmental Commission and a former environmental crimes bureau chief in the state Attorney General's Office. “We hope there will be a solution for all the coastal lakes, a plan for dredging, for stormwater management and for shoreline restoration” with restored habitats, Bonanno said.

The lakes are key elements of their communities, and it's unfortunate that lake restoration is getting less attention than other Jersey Shore restoration efforts, said President Stephen J. Souza of Princeton Hydro, a Ringoes, N.J.-based environmental consulting firm.

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