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SCMUA-WRWMG's 2018 Project Highlights

Friday, January 04, 2019



2018 was a terrific year of restoration project installation and community engagement for the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority-Wallkill River Watershed Management Group.

Environmental Leadership Award

  • In June, the Sussex County Economic Development Partnership awarded the SCMUA-Wallkill River Watershed Management Group the 2018 Environmental Leadership Award to recognize the organization’s ongoing water quality restoration work throughout Sussex County.

Volunteer Engagement

  • In 2018, the SCMUA-WRWMG worked with 728 volunteers to install rain gardens and plant trees along the Paulins Kill, the Wallkill River, and Papakating Creek, helping to improve the in-stream and terrestrial habitat conditions of each water body.

Community Outreach

  • Throughout 2018, 1,359 people attended presentations given by Kristine Rogers, the SCMUA-WRWMG’s Education and Outreach Specialist, allowing the organization to directly educate Sussex County residents about the ongoing need for direct watershed stewardship.
  • Additionally, 1,009 students participated in educational events led by the SCMUA-WRWMG. Some of the educational events that occurred in 2018 were the 13th annual Earth Energy Day at the SCMUA Solid Waste and Recycling Facility, Think Outside Day at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, and aquatic insect identification field days with Sparta High School.

Riparian Reforestation

  • The SCMUA-WRWMG and The Nature Conservancy were recently awarded a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to coordinate Phase 3 of their floodplain reforestation project. The funding will allow both organizations to continue planting trees along the Paulins Kill River in Newton and Stillwater Townships while also funding maintenance of previously planted sites.
  • This year, 7,457 trees and shrubs were planted throughout Sussex County by the SCMUA-WRWMG, TNC, and countless volunteer groups.

Wallkill River Reforestation

  • Kristine Rogers coordinated outdoor field days with every environmental science teacher at Sparta High School.
  • To date, 1,269 Sparta High School students have participated in the SCMUA-WRWMG’s Wallkill River floodplain reforestation project during their science classes.
  • Since the project began in 2015, a total of 11,442 trees and shrubs that were provided by the Arbor Day Foundation and the New Jersey Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership were planted along the Wallkill River by Sparta students.

High Point High School Partnership

  • The SCMUA-WRWMG continued its riparian reforestation project at Woodbourne Park in Wantage Township with the help of High Point High School environmental science students. To date, 350 trees and shrubs have been planted at the site.
  • Discussions about installing a rain garden to capture polluted runoff from the parking lots are already underway. If construction plans move forward, High Point students will become directly involved in the design and construction of a rain garden on the school’s campus.

Delaware River Watershed Initiative

  • The SCMUA-WRWMG and over 50 conservation organizations have been working collaboratively on land acquisition and restoration projects to help improve the long-term water quality of the Delaware River.
  • The William Penn Foundation is funding the SCMUA-WRWMG to create a floodplain reforestation community outreach campaign and install stormwater management projects in Hampton, Newton, and the Paulins Kill lake communities.
  • During 2018, the SCMUA-WRWMG worked with other northern NJ conservation organizations to create short videos and informational brochures about the SCMUA-WRWMG’s reforestation and stormwater management projects in the Paulins Kill Watershed.
  • The SCMUA-WRWMG is also acting as the facilitator of the Paulins Kill work group, a coalition of different environmental restoration, protection, and policy organizations that are working within the Paulins Kill Watershed. In this role, the SCMUA-WRWMG organizes work group meetings and is responsible for tracking the progress made towards the group’s water quality improvement goals.

Stormwater Management

  • The SCMUA-WRWMG installed its 3rd rain garden at the Culver Lake Normanoch Association Clubhouse thanks to the effort of Nathaniel Sajdak, Watershed Director of the SCMUA-WRWMG, and members of the Greater Culver Lake Watershed Conservation Foundation.
  • The rain garden, designed by Rutgers Water Resources Program, will capture, treat, and infiltrate stormwater runoff from a 7,595 square foot drainage area.
  • Kristine Rogers, Nathaniel Sajdak, and Brenda Delgrosso (6th grade science teacher) organized the 2nd annual Stormwater Summer Camp at McKeown Elementary School in Hampton Township. 18 students from grades 2-7 participated in an interactive week of environmental games, open-ended discussions, crafts, and computer-based modeling exercises to learn about the human role in causing pollution and proper ways to ecologically manage stormwater runoff.

Agricultural Restoration: USDA-NRCS Partnership

  • Because of the successful delivery of the Agricultural Outreach and Assistance Program, the SCMUA-WRWMG has been awarded a contribution agreement with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service to coordinate agricultural best management practice implementation on local farms throughout Sussex County.
  • In 2018, Eric VanBenschoten, Agricultural Outreach Specialist for the SCMUA-WRWMG, worked cooperatively with USDA-NRCS to plan, design, and install agricultural best management practices on Sussex County farms.
  • Currently, Eric is helping to plan a manure storage facility at a local dairy and has just completed construction on a dry crossing (bridge) that allows cows to cross the stream without entering the water. This best management practice helps to prevent manure from polluting the stream with pathogens.

Sussex County Community College Partnership

  • The SCMUA-WRWMG collaborated with Sussex County Community College (SCCC) to organize the 3rd annual Earth Week Celebration for college students at SCCC and preschool students at Project Self-Sufficiency.
  • Participants learned about the human impact on the natural environment and participated in a rotation of different stations led by the SCMUA-WRWMG, SCCC environmental science students, and the SCMUA Recycling Coordinator that focused on watershed stewardship opportunities in Sussex County, non-point source pollution, aquatic insect identification, planting in greenhouses, and the importance of recycling.
  • The SCMUA-WRWMG Education Specialist worked with Sussex County Community College (SCCC) students to create a water quality monitoring program of six different locations on the campus. These weekly monitoring activities will help the SCMUA-WRWMG track water quality improvements in the Paulins Kill over time.
  • The SCMUA-WRWMG has begun to plan additional opportunities to collaborate with Sussex County Community College professors and students. Discussions are already underway about installing stormwater best management practices and forested tree buffers on select areas of the campus with the help of SCCC environmental science students.