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!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Permeable pavement @ EPA

Yesterday, I had the fortunate opportunity to attend a presentation at the Edison EPA office and to tour their stormwater best management practices (BMPs). I was especially intrigued by their permeable pavement parking lot. They are testing the three types of permeable pavement out there: pervious concrete, porous asphalt, and porous pavers.

Now, why are these important, and what makes them a best management practice? Traditional pavement--asphalt and concrete, what makes up roads, sidewalks, parking lots, etc--is impermeable, meaning that water is not able to pass through. Natural spaces, like forests, have pervious grounds surfaces, which means that water does pass through the soil, replenishing the groundwater supply. As development occurs, heavy machinery runs over our native soil (which may have been pervious in the past), which compacts the soil, making it impervious.

Modern stormwater practices carry water away from these impervious areas (storm drains, detention basins, etc) and do not allow water to enter the soil below, which also acts as a filter for pollutants, like sediment and motor oil. In short, permeable pavement allows water to pass through and eliminates some stormwater (and pollutants) from reaching our streams. Some flooding is caused by excess stormwater from development, which historically had been held on site and infiltrated into the ground.

So at EPA, they have a demonstration parking lot, where they are testing out these permeable pavement options. This is an active office parking lot, and they have hundreds of instruments under the parking lot to be able to measure the effectiveness of the pavement options.

The three options

porous pavers

porous asphalt

pervious concrete

Each has their challenges, but they all have big benefits. Just take a look at how effective these pavement options can be:

For more information about the project, here's the video from EPA, or visit their website.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

World Water Day

March 22 is WORLD WATER DAY. Water is a basic requirement for all life, yet water resources are facing increasing demands from, and competition among, users. In 1992, the UN General Assembly designated 22 March of each year as the World Day for Water.

Visit to learn more! This year's topic is Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fix a Leak Week!

It's Fix a Leak Week! March 14-20, 2011!

According to the U.S. EPA, more than 1 trillion gallons of water leak from U.S. homes each year. So check your plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems this week to make sure you aren't contributing.

You can take the pledge here:

Fix a Leak Week is sponsored by the U.S. EPA's WaterSense program.

Become a fan of NJWSA on Facebook!