Tuesday, February 24, 2015

National Invasive Species Awareness Week

It is National Invasive Species Awareness Week!

Please visit the National Invasive Species Awareness Week Website to learn more:  http://www.nisaw.org/

Here Are Nine Ways You Can Help (from nisaw.org)
  1. Learn about invasive species, especially those found in your region. Your county extension office and the National Invasive Species Information Center are both trusted resources.
  2. Clean hiking boots, waders, boats and trailers, off-road vehicles and other gear to stop invasive species from hitching a ride to a new location. Learn more at PlayCleanGo.org
  3. Avoid dumping aquariums or live bait into waterways. Learn more at Habitattitude.org
  4. Don't move firewood - instead, buy it where you'll burn it, or gather on site when permitted. Learn more at DontMoveFirewood.org
  5. Use forage, hay, mulch and soil that are certified as "weed free."
  6. Plant only non-invasive plants in your garden, and remove any known invaders.
  7. Report new or expanded invasive species outbreaks to authorities. Here is a state-by-state list of contacts
  8. Volunteer to help remove invasive species from public lands and natural areas.
  9. Ask your political representatives at the state, local and national level to support invasive species control efforts.
More great websites to visit for additional information about invasive species:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Rain Garden Rebate Program 2015 for Residents of Bridgewater, Raritan and Somerville

Rain Garden Rebate Program 2015: For Bridgewater, Raritan, and Somerville Residents

What is a rain garden and why do I want one?

As the rain falls to the earth, some of it evaporates, some is used by plants and some goes down into the soil as groundwater.  The rest of the rain flows across the land surface collecting pollutants and carrying them into rivers and reservoirs that are the sources of our drinking water.
Rain Gardens are shallow depressions planted with native plants that live well in wet areas.  They are designed to collect water primarily from roof tops, but also from driveways and patios.   They look like regular flower gardens, but when it rains, a rain garden will hold a few inches of water and allow it to slowly seep in to the ground instead of running into storm drains, streams and gullies.  This can help prevent erosion and allows the water to be filtered naturally.  Rain gardens also provide wildlife habitat and add beautiful flowers to your yard and neighborhood.   

Rain gardens are a perfect way to add beauty to your landscape and make a difference in water quality for your community.

And I can get some money back if I do this in my yard?

The Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) Water Resources Program has partnered with the New Jersey Water Supply Authority (NJWSA) Watershed Protection Program to offer rebates to homeowners that build rain gardens. Since 2013, more than 60 area residents have attended these workshops, and more than 10 rain gardens were installed in 2014 through this rebate program.

The Rain Garden Rebate Program is being offered again for 2015!

This program is open to residents of Bridgewater, Raritan and Somerville to learn the basics of rain garden installation and design a rain garden for your home. At the workshop, attendees will be offered the opportunity to sign up for free rain garden design sessions with Rutgers landscape professionals.  With detailed guidance in hand, rebates of up to $450 may be awarded to participating residents who install a rain garden on their property.

Your garden must be created from an approved design to qualify for the rebate.  So please join us at one of these informative workshops!

Workshops will be held on Thursday, March 12, 6pm-8pm and Saturday, March 14, 10am-12pm at the Duke Farms Coach Barn, Dukes Parkway East, Hillsborough, NJ.

To register, contact Michelle at mrollman@raritanbasin.org or 908-730-0270 x223, or visit www.raritanbasin.org.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Whether you do it for yourself or for your kids, for now or for the future, for your health or the environment, taking care of our water resources is an important responsibility that we all should share.  So why not make a resolution to be more River-Friendly this year?  Here are some tips and ideas to protect water resources and, in some cases, save money!  Visit http://www.raritanbasin.org/Projects/riverfriendly/resident_tech_materials.html for more information on these topics.

·          Landscape with native plants to help reduce your yard’s water needs.
o   Native plants evolved in the region in which they are found, so they are adapted to the local weather, soil and geology.  Native plants typically require less maintenance and less irrigation than non-natives and are generally more resistant to pests and diseases.  By using natives, you can reduce your need for irrigation, pesticides and herbicides.
·          Use a soil test to guide your fertilizer use.
o   Tests will tell you exactly how much nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, lime, sulfur or other nutrients to add to your soil. Too much nitrogen and phosphorus can cause harm to lakes, rivers and drinking water. Other excess nutrients can weaken and even kill your plants and grass.
·          Use less pesticides and fertilizers. 
o   Only use pesticides and fertilizers when you need them.  Excess nitrogen and phosphorus can be carried by the rain to lakes and streams.   Too much nitrogen or phosphorus in the water can cause a reduction in oxygen which is harmful to small children and young animals that drink it.  It can also cause an overgrowth of aquatic plants and algae leading to clogged water intakes and fish kills.
·          Conserve Water!
o   The U.S. population is growing and with it, the demand on our water resources. At least 36 states faced water shortages through 2013, making water conservation a very important issue.  Save money on your water bill by conserving water whenever you can and become a part of the solution instead of the problem.
§  Repair leaky faucets and toilets right away. Save up to 50 gallons of water a day!
§  Install a water saving showerhead.  Save up to 20 gallons per person per day! 
§  Turn off the tap while you’re brushing your teeth.  Save 3-5 gallons each time you brush your teeth.
·          Collect water in rain barrels and use it later to water your garden.
o   Rain Barrels are a great way to conserve water for your non-drinking needs as well as to slow down stormwater, preventing it from picking up pollutants and eroding stream banks.
·          Clean up after your pets.
o   Not scooping your dog poop can lead to high levels of fecal coliform in lakes and streams as it is picked up from where you left it and carried by stormwater.
·          Dispose of household cleaners, paints and other chemicals safely, such as at a household hazardous waste day.
·          Replace one household chemical with an environmentally friendly alternative.
o   Keep toxic chemicals from the water by using products with natural ingredients.
·          Get involved in a local watershed organization.
o   Participate in a stream clean-up or other activities.
·          Plant a tree!
o   Trees are important for many reasons, not only do they provide oxygen for us to breathe, but they can protect our water by slowing down stormwater runoff and filtering pollutants. 

The New Jersey Water Supply Authority wishes you a wonderful year and we thank you for any steps that you might take towards cleaner, healthier water.  It is all of us together that will make a difference!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Welcome to "The Source"

Our first new e-newsletter goes out today! Check out "The Source!"

Happy reading!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Somerville Rain Barrel Workshop

Last week, we held our first rain barrel workshop of the year. Our Peters Brook Residential Rain Barrel Rebate Program had just kicked off in July, and we had a big calling for another workshop in the Somerville area.

On a Tuesday night in late August, we had 28 rain barrels built and approximately 40 people attend the workshop. This was the first time we had a waiting list days before the event! We had a great turn out. 

Not only did we go over the benefits and how to build a rain barrel, we covered the Rebate Program as well. Over 60% of the workshop attendees live within the Peters Brook Watershed. 

Here are some pictures!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rain garden in Farmingdale

Last fall I was invited to attend an outreach event in the Manasquan Watershed. The event was the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore Groundwater Festival. I had been requested to bring information about rain gardens. Little did I know at the time, a few months later, we would be planning a rain garden and getting one installed!

Cadette Girl Scouts from Troop 68 in Toms River had begun working on their Silver Award project--to design and install a rain garden. In March, we met with Rutgers Water Resources Program to determine the best site, and in April the planning had really begun. The girls worked hard through the spring to secure plant donations from local nurseries. 

In July, we planned for the installation. Staff from the Girl Scouts prepared the site, which was to be a 550-square foot rain garden, which drained a 1200-square foot section of roof from a downspout. The garden was oversized--the steep slope of the roof meant that the roof area being drained was actually much larger than 1200 square feet. 

The area was dug out, and the night before our planting it poured. When I arrived at the site, the 550-square foot x 1 foot deep hole was completely filled with water. Between two pumps and the scouts acting as the bucket brigade, all of the water was out in less than 2 hours. 

We moved on to prepping the rain garden with the help of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Monmouth County. We added topsoil and compost and leveled out the garden. We created a berm with additional material. It doesn't sound like much, and took a lot of work over the next few hours. Everyone was beat, so we called it a day, and met back the following day.

On Sunday, we planted. And planted and planted. We had laid landscape fabric along the berm to prevent weeds from coming through, and put landscape fabric in the trench that would feed the rain garden. Troop 68 had designed the rain garden, which included: Butterfly Milkweed, Turtlehead, Purple Coneflower, Cinnamon Fern, and Witchhazel, to name a few. 

For all photos, visit our photo album.

Thanks to everyone who was a part of this project!

Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore
Cadette Troop 68
Rutgers Water Resources Program
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Monmouth County

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rain Barrels for Habitat

A few months ago, we were contacted by Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity about rain barrels. They are building nine houses in Bridgewater, close to the Raritan River, and they were interested in rain barrels. The NJ Water Supply Authority purchased rain barrels, automatic downspout diverters, and soaker hoses to outfit each house with two rain barrels to conserve water and reduce stormwater runoff. The Habitat staff learned how to build the barrels, and built 18 inch high stands for the rain barrels. Habitat staff and volunteers put the rain barrels together and so far, have installed 9 barrels.

This setup is different than the typical setup we have promoted in the past, and from what is in our rain barrel brochure. The automatic diverter eliminates the need for a separate inflow and outflow, as well as the need to reconfigure the downspout each winter. The diverter can stay on your downspout, as it is metal rather than plastic, and only the plastic tubing needs to be removed and the holes plugged up. The barrel should still be drained in late fall.

The setup takes a little more time than just cutting the downspout and adding a flexible downspout attachment, plus an overflow hose to the top of the barrel. In this setup, when the barrel is full, it backs up water in the flexible green hose, which sends the rain water down the regular downspout, which may drain to your yard (we hope), driveway, or the street.

How the automatic diverter works
If you are interested in installing a rain barrel on your house, you should check into an automatic diverter system. Be aware of the material of the diverter (plastic vs. metal) and fully understand the installation before purchasing. Also realize that a diverter system may affect the construction design of the rain barrel itself. These barrels do not have an open top (they are screw off for cleaning) and do not require a mosquito screen.

Happy rain barreling!