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2022 Year in Review

Thursday, December 22, 2022



Volunteer and Community Engagement

• In 2022, the SCMUA-WRWMG worked with 677 volunteers who contributed a total of 1192 volunteer hours. Volunteer groups included local students, Thor Labs, Norwescap, and JCP&L employees, and members of the Wallkill Valley Girl Scouts and Sussex County Association of Realtors.

• This year, 727 participants attended presentations and educational events led by the WRWMG.

• The SCMUA-WRWMG’s AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassador coordinated a pollinator planting project at Wawayanda State Park.

• The SCMUA-WRWMG received funding from the Lake Mohawk Preservation Foundation to install bird and bat boxes throughout the Wallkill River Watershed.

In-Person and Virtual Lessons

• The SCMUA and WRWMG hosted an Earth Day educational event at the Paulinskill Water Treatment Facility for 6th and 7th grade students at Frankford Middle School. The students participated in four different stations that included a tour of the wastewater treatment plant, tree planting, aquatic insect identification, and a waste audit where they learned what materials to landfill, recycle, or compost.

• The SCMUA-WRWMG Education Specialist and SCMUA Recycling Coordinator created a joint display at the NJ State Fair to highlight the WRWMG’s reforestation and stormwater management programs and the SCMUA’s battery and cooking oil recycling programs. The pair collaborated again in September at Sussex County Day to educate residents about the work of the SCMUA and WRWMG.

• Nathaniel Sajdak presented at the 3rd annual Harmful Algal Bloom Summit sponsored by the NJDEP to highlight the stormwater management and green infrastructure work of the SCMUA-WRWMG.

Delaware River Watershed Initiative

• The SCMUA-WRWMG and over 50 conservation organizations have been working collaboratively on land acquisition and restoration projects to improve the water quality of the Delaware River. In 2022, the SCMUA-WRWMG received a new 3-year grant agreement to fund its participation in this effort.

• In September, the SCMUA-WRWMG Education Specialist helped organize the 4th annual Northwest NJ Rivers Conference that included 15 different workshops about tourism and recreational opportunities in northern NJ. Over 100 local residents and municipal officials attended the conference.

Riparian Reforestation

• The SCMUA-WRWMG Education Specialist formed a new partnership with TerraCycle, an international corporation specializing in recycling hard-to-recycle items. TerraCycle will help the WRWMG properly recycle the tree tubes that have been installed at each of its reforestation sites.

• The SCMUA-WRWMG and volunteers planted 3,700 trees and shrubs along the Paulins Kill, Wallkill, and Clove Brook.

• Bronx students from Cardinal Hayes High School worked with the SCMUA-WRWMG and the Wallkill River Wildlife Refuge staff to plant 250 trees that were funded by the NJ Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership. This was the first time that many of the Bronx students had ever left New York City!

Wetlands Enhancement Project

• The SCMUA-WRWMG continued its wetlands enhancement project at the SCMUA’s Paulinskill Water Treatment Facility by hosting training opportunities for the AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassadors and environmental science students at Sussex County Technical School.

• In the spring, the SCMUA-WRWMG will be working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to install shallow water habitat pools, warm season grass fields, and beaver dam analogs on the property.

Agricultural Restoration

• Eric VanBenschoten worked with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service to plan and install agricultural projects throughout the county. Conservation practices that were certified complete this year included livestock piping and watering facilities, cover crop, invasives forest management, exclusion fencing, and prescribed grazing.

Stormwater Management

• The SCMUA-WRWMG was awarded a $609,434 grant from the NJDEP to fund streamside reforestation projects in Sussex Borough and Wantage Township’s municipal parks, porous asphalt installation at Borough Hall in Sussex, and the continuation of the WRWMG’s agricultural program in partnership with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.

• In Newton, the SCMUA-WRWMG partnered with the Newton DPW and Rutgers Water Resources Program to construct a new rain garden at Merriam Avenue Elementary School. Additionally, Bears Landscaping installed porous pavers in the Newton High School courtyard. These projects were funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as part of a Kindergarten-college initiative where the SCMUA-WRWMG is installing stormwater management projects at the elementary school, middle school, high school, and community college in Newton.

• Working in partnership with Stroud Water Research Center, Kristine Rogers completed a research project for her master’s degree that investigated the impact of road salt on the Upper Paulins Kill.

• In September, the SCMUA-WRWMG installed 4 floating treatment wetlands at Lake Owassa and Kemah Lake to reduce the likelihood of harmful algal bloom (HAB) development. The islands are planted with native flowers and shrubs to help purify the lake through microbe consumption of HAB-causing cyanobacteria and nutrient uptake of phosphorus and nitrogen by the plant roots.

• The SCMUA-WRWMG, Rutgers Water Resources Program, and Pope John High School planted native vegetation in five stormwater detention basins on the Pope John campus. The plants will help to beautify the landscape, provide pollinator habitat, and manage the stormwater runoff that flows over the school’s paved parking lot.