One of the most significant challenges facing water quality in the New Jersey Highlands comes as a result of storm water run-off, generally related to large areas of impervious surfaces allowing for pollutants to be leeched into the water supply. By and large, these impervious surfaces are comprised of large paved areas, such as commercial parking lots. There are a number of ways to combat this issue, the most common of which is allowing for a buffer to protect a stream or other water body, acting as a filter preventing harmful pollutants from reaching the water supply. This can often be accomplished through the construction of a project, such as a rain garden or rain barrels to control storm water off these impervious surfaces.
The North Jersey Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council is a non-profit 501c(3) organization initiated to help people care for and protect their natural resources to improve their environment, economy and standards of living. The RC&D recognizes the threat of harmful storm water runoff into our local watersheds, and sponsors a number of helpful community events and projects to help combat the issue. From community rain gardens, to workshops to educate and instruct those from local communities on constructing their own rain barrels, the RC&D is committed to protecting water quality within the New Jersey Highlands.
One such project currently in the works at the RC&D, in cooperation with the Lopatcong Creek Initiative (LCI), is taking place in the watershed of the Lopatcong Creek in Warren County. This project, which will take place on the grounds of Rath’s Deli in Greenwich Township, will work to install a community rain garden to control storm water runoff and filter pollutants from entering the nearby Lopatcong Creek. Essentially, the rain garden will collect and hold the storm water that cascades off the pavement of the establishment’s parking area, and filter pollutants out of the stored water before allowing it to leech back out of the rain garden in the next storm event. This project will serve as a model for the creation of successive efforts in the future, and will hopefully encourage other participants in the area and beyond to consider how to treat their storm water runoff. As more development continues to move into the area, it is imperative that there are proven methods to treat storm water runoff from entering local watersheds, bringing with it harmful pollutants that can negatively impact the environment.
In similar efforts, the RC&D is also sponsoring workshops in which attendees will learn how to build and install their own rain barrels. Rain barrels act to collect and store rainwater from roofs, which similarly to rain gardens, help improve stream health by reducing the amount of water and pollutants that reach local waterways after storm events. Additionally, the water captured by rain barrels can have many beneficial uses to those who choose to utilize them. Residents can use the collected water to easily water lawns or plantings, save funds on water utility bills, and reduce stress on wells.
Kathy Hale, Principal Watershed Protection Specialist at the New Jersey Water Supply Authority says, “Rain barrels are a great way for homeowners to help protect their water supply by controlling residential storm water runoff.”
Certainly, learning how to effectively use rain barrels can contribute to improving our water resources. Participants of these workshops will learn how to properly build, install and maintain their own rain barrels, which can only positively impact our local water quality. Workshops such as these will be coming up in the following weeks:
Neshanic River Watershed Build-a-Rain Barrel Workshop
Flemington Jewish Community Center
5 Sergeantsville Road
Flemington, NJ 08822
April 13th, 2016 at 6:00 PM
The cost to attendees to build and take home a barrel is $35
To register and reserve a rain barrel, please call 908-730-0270 x233 or e-mail email@example.com. RSVP is required and space is limited. For additional information, visit http://www.raritanbasin.org/rain_barrel.html.
Musconetcong River Watershed Build-a-Rain Barrel Workshop
Sponsored by the Lopatcong Environmental Commission
River Resource Center
10 Maple Avenue
Asbury, NJ 08802
May 24th, 2016 at 6-8 PM
The event is free admission for attendees, but $25 to build your own rain barrel.
In addition to these interactive events, the RC&D also has funding still available for the installation of rain gardens in both the Neshanic and Lower Musconetcong watersheds, built at no cost to the home or business owner. Those interested in such opportunities can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 908-574-5368.
As impervious surfaces cover more of our landscape, methods of holding, collecting and filtering storm water of pollutants becomes of paramount importance to local water quality. This is an issue that affects everyone in the community, and takes a collective effort to adequately address. Education of this topic to those in the community, and contributions to local efforts are critical to the success of those efforts. No matter how small of a scale the project may seem on the landscape, every effort made is a step in the right direction to the preservation of our watersheds and the improvement of our water quality. The North Jersey RC&D remains committed to the improvement of the local community and environmental standards.