Tag Archives: stormwater management

Speak up for NJ law to use only environment-saving native plants for state roadway areas

Native Plant legislative alertA proposed law would help clean New Jersey waterways by requiring all new Jersey roadway authorities to use ONLY native plants for landscaping, land management, reforestation and habitat restoration.

Plant and grass fertilizers are a huge source of pollution for natural waterways, but native plants need no fertilizers. Native plants are also hearty and drought resistant, so they tend to thrive even when water becomes scarce – so they can keep on doing their job well: growing deep roots that retain topsoil and keep plants healthy. Those roots help stormwater seep into the ground where it gets channelled to the underground aquifers that

Please write or call your State Senator and Assemblyperson. Consult this handy guide to find your New Jersey State legislators.

Speak out on NJ State DEP plans to redevelop the Meadowlands

The Federal Government has created a national competition to award $1 Billion dollars to assist communities with becoming more resilient to disasters. The New Jersey DEP has submitted an application for more than $326 million dollars in funds to create berms in the Meadowlands, a NJTransit garage in Teterboro, and Resiliency Planning Assistance to municipalities throughout the state. The New Jersey application (see it in English and Spanish) proposes a pilot project “service area” in the municipalities of Carlstadt, East Rutherford, Hackensack, Hasbrouck Heights, Little Ferry, Moonachie, Rutherford, South Hackensack, Teterboro, and Wood-Ridge.

It is critical that the State hear everyone’s thoughts on how this money should be spent. This project will affect our neighborhoods, our schools, our businesses and our quality of life.

There will be a meeting for residents to find out more about this application; assistance in providing comments will be available.

National Disaster Resilience Competition Residents’ Meeting
Monday 05 Oct 2015 | 6-9:30pm
North Jersey Vineyard Church
370 North Street, Teterboro, NJ 07608

(Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/824726964314802/)
If you can’t make the meeting, you can submit your comments from now through October 9, 2015, at 5:00 p.m.

By E-mail: ndrcpubliccomments@dep.nj.gov
By Postal Mail:
Office of Flood Risk Reduction Measures
Attention: Dave Rosenblatt
501 East State Street
Mail Code 501-01A
P.O. Box 420
Trenton, NJ 08625-0420

How CSOs (combined sewer/water systems) work, why they’re bad

USEPA and New Jersey Future
CSOs are Combined Sewer Overflow systems put in place centuries ago when stormwater was considered to be as much a public inconvenience as sewage is – instead of being regarded as the asset it really is. After all, nobody can live without water and for various reasons, we have less clean water today than any other time in history, so there’s a growing awareness of how much we need to treasure and protect our water resources.

In the CSO model, both clean street stormwater and sewage waste are channeled through municipal pipes into the municipal sewage waste treatment facility. That’s a waste of taxpayer funds right out of the box, because there’s no need to treat street water that’s already, just about clean. And even worse, the CSO system becomes a huge public health hazard when there’s a big weather event and CSO-connected sewage plants close off their incoming pipes to avoid becoming overwhelmed and flooding. When this happens, both effluent and water in the municipal pipes are pushed out into nearby natural bodies of water.

This is not only a truly icky phenomenon. It’s also damaging to the waterways’ ecosystems and obviously makes using them for recreation while sewage is present, entirely out of the question.

In a NJ Spotlight Opinion Piece, Daniel J. Van Abs offers a synopsis of the CSO problem:

The Romans developed a technology, now called combined sewers, to move sewage and stormwater off the streets and out of the city. London revived the use of combined sewers in the 1800s. Many cities in this country also built combined sewers from roughly 1860 to the 1920s, including 21 New Jersey municipalities, where they still exist. Initially, the combined sewage and stormwater were discharged directly to rivers, lakes, and bays, getting it out of the city as quickly as possible. Only later was treatment added – sometimes.

H2 Oh No! is a short video about CSOs from the Center for Urban Pedagogy.

Both Rutger’s Water Resources Department in New Jersey and New York’s Riverkeeper recommend on-site treatments to contain stormwater where it falls by sequestering it in the leaves of plants and trees at street height or in green roofs, getting it to percolate into the ground or capturing it in cisterns and rainbarrels for later use.

Here’s a CSO factsheet from Riverkeeper showing on-site treatments effectively provide for stormwater management. This keeps stormwater away from sewage lines and consequently, reduces the incidents of CSO pollution.

Make a rain barrel workshops – for Newark residents

rain-barrel-diagramTake an active role in recycling rainwater – install a rain barrel at your house! A rain barrel holds about 50 gallons of water which can be used to water gardens and for other non-potable uses. Harvesting rainwater has many benefits including saving water, saving money on your bill, and preventing basement flooding. By collecting rainwater, homeowners are also helping to reduce flooding and pollution in local waterways.

$15 fee per barrel

Workshops help 6-8pm on these dates:
Thursday 14 May 2015
Tuesday 19 May 2015
Thursday 21 May 2015

At the Greater Newark Conservancy
32 Prince Street
Newark, NJ 07103

*Space is limited and registration is for Newark-residents only*

Lawns and unsustainable urban buildout are destroying water, bees and us

Two important community issues involving water are the environmental dangers of lawns and the importance of storm drain stewardship.

Storm Drain Stewardship

Jersey City drains to your river
Jersey City storm drain marker drains to your river
Because storm drains in most communities carry stormwater out to natural bodies of water, it’s important to keep as much pollution as possible from entering them. Storm drain marker programs have been established in New Jersey and across the country to help make local residents aware of the environmental value of protecting storm drains and the waterways they are linked with.

What flows into storm drains doesn’t come only from roadway surfaces, though. Water runoff from buildings, walk and driveways and lawns washes into storm drains and watershed areas too and from them – right out into our rivers, streams lakes, estuaries and eventually, our oceans. The Milwaukee Riverkeeper defines watershed as, “…simply the area of land that catches rain and snow and drains or seeps into a marsh, stream, river, lake or groundwater.”

Lawn pesticides and fertilizers: A great health hazard

pesticide free zone ladybug signThe enormous quantity of pesticides and over-application of fertilizers on lawns makes them one of the great waterway – and therefor personal – health issues of our time. The Bayshore Regional Watershed Council has a 2007 newspaper article posted on its site cautioning about the health hazards of perfect lawns.

The shimmering green of the finely groomed Long Island lawn may trigger an owner’s pride and neighborhood envy, but it also could pose a serious health risk … Karen Joy Miller, founder of the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, said pesticides are particularly dangerous for small children who are low to the ground, often barefoot and likely to put things in their mouths. Miller, a breast cancer survivor, said she suspects her sickness was caused in part by exposure to pesticides.

Natural lawn walk
Natural lawn walk
Beyond Pesticides, an environmental education group, tells us about the hazards of pesticides in landscapes and lawns.

Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides 19 have studies pointing toward carcinogens, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 15 with neurotoxicity, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 27 are sensitizers and/or irritants, and 11 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system … A 2004 national survey reveals that 5 million homeowners use only organic lawn practices and products and 35 million people use both toxic and non-toxic materials.

Beyond Pesticides offers a toolkit for organizing your community against pesticides and tips for beginning to eliminate pesticides locally and offers this advice:

A growing body of evidence in scientific literature shows that pesticide exposure can adversely affect a child’s neurological, respiratory, immune, and endocrine system, even at low levels. Young children are particularly susceptible because of their rapid growth and decreased ability to detoxify toxins. Fortunately, there are proven safe, effective, and affordable ways to maintain attractive lawns and playable fields without the use of toxic pesticides.

The EPA also offers pesticide reduction tips. Their tips include recommendations to compost and use native plants.
bee pollinating flower

Food supply is being threatened by bee death due to pesticides

Pesticides are dangerous for a number of environmental and health reasons which include the death of bees which society needs to pollinate and grow fruits and vegetables. For the first time this year in California, there were not enough bees on site to pollinate the entire crop of almonds. Weakened immune systems and outright death of bees is being attributed to overuse of pesticides and the reduction of open growth areas in favor of manicured lawns and unsustainably planned cities.

Fertilizers: another big health hazard and their partial ban in New Jersey

Rutgers fertilizer restriction FAQWaterway health depends on the conservation of a delicately balanced ecosystem that must support aquatic plants, fish, seafood and insects as well as the watershed and beach areas surrounding them and the birds and wildlife they support. Over-fertilization of lawns with nitrogen and phosphorous has led to the destruction of waterway health around the country and in New Jersey, some of the nation’s toughest lawn fertilizer laws have been enacted. Rutgers University summarizes the laws in this FAQ. An nj.com article summarizes the reasons behind the laws.

Nitrogen and phosphorus, while important for plant growth, are harmful to the environment if they wind up in the water. Nitrogen is a greater threat to coastal water, while phosphorous is more harmful in fresh water. Nitrogen causes algae blooms that deprive water of oxygen and kill marine life, and in New Jersey, environmentalists and scientists said that nitrogen was the primary reason for the slow death of salt water bodies, especially the Barnegat Bay.

Fertilizers in New Jersey may no longer contain phosphorus, except in special circumstances when a soil test indicates need, or when establishing or re-establishing turf …

Saddle River County Park watershed cleanup 3/24!

Water is one of our most valuable resources with less than 1% of the water supply on Earth used for drinking. This precious resource is being threatened, whether from fracking or pollution, but we can and must protect it. World Water Day is March 22nd: what better way to celebrate and help care for this precious resource than by a water way (watershed) clean up? Please join ours on Saturday, March 24. If you have gardening or work gloves please bring them and dress appropriately.

Saturday March 24th from 10am to 12pm
Saddle River County Park

Meet at Saddle River Road in Fairlawn Exit Off of Route 4 parking lot P on your Right
Here is a map to better understand: http://www.co.bergen.nj.us/bcparks/maps/FairlawnAreaMap.pdf
Everyone Welcome! Friends, family, neighbors spread the word to whoever wants to come out & make a difference!

Please RSVP to the clean up

Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, New Jersey Sierra Club

Rain barrel education and training on 3/7

Are you interested in helping rainwater get into the ground? Rain barrels are a great way to do this! In this program, you’ll not only learn how to make rain barrels, you’ll also learn about their environmental benefits, why stormwater management is important and how to do rain barrel building workshops in your own community!

Rain Barrels are a great tool for promoting water conservation and reducing stormwater runoff. The Rain Barrel Train the Trainer program is for environmental commission members, educators, municipalities, garden clubs, and environmental organizations interested in learning how to teach their communities about the environmental benefits of rain barrels.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012, 6:30-9:00pm
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County
Davidson Mill Pond Park
42 Riva Avenue, South Brunswick, NJ

Covered at the workshop:

  • How to get barrels
  • Tools and materials needed to build a rain barrel
  • Rain barrel installation examples
  • Methods for painting rain barrels
  • Preventing mosquitoes, and other maintenance issues
  • Education on water conservation and stormwater management
  • Brochures, fact sheets and other resources for educating the public and promoting your program

For those building a rain barrel, the cost is $50.00. For those not building a rain barrel, the cost is $12.00. Call 862-203-8814 to register or email info@greenwei.com. Payment must be made in advance by Wednesday, February 29th in order to reserve your space. Class size is limited so register early!