Rahway River Watershed Rain Garden Campaign Begins

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UNION COUNTY — During a rain storm at a meeting held at the Springfield Municipal Building last week, 24 citizens met to discuss the initial campaign for the development of 1,000 rain gardens in the Rahway River Watershed in Essex and Union counties.

The group was assembled by the Rahway River Watershed Stormwater Advisory Board to work on a plan to develop rain gardens as one solution to reduce the flow of storm water runoff that makes flooding worse during peak events. Mayor David Amblen was present and Aly Miller of the Springfield Environmental Commission helped to lead the group planning.

Thus far the group has developed a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/1000RainGardensProject. Several temples in Springfield, an expected site in Millburn, the Springfield municipal complex, at the municipal building in Cranford and numerous residents have signed on to develop rain gardens.

The campaign plan includes: visits and requests to the 20 largest property owners to consider developing such landscape changes; requests to both Essex and Union counties since they are the largest property owners in the region; and outreach to boy scout troops, homeowner associations and governing boards and schools.

Rutgers University Union County Agricultural Cooperative Extension is providing advice to the planning effort. The Rahway River Association has recently received a $20,000 grant to assist in the effort. Municipal engineers from communities such as Springfield, Rahway and Cranford have participated in the effort thus far. All communities in the watershed are being urged to participate.

The campaign to develop 1,000 rain gardens is being done in recognition that recent major storms have caused serious runoff which has contributed to flooding in the watershed region. Rain gardens, besides providing beneficial aspects to water quality, will help to increase the time of concentration on a regional basis providing flood waters “time to peak” which will then reduce the depth of water elevation in the river channels and then also reduce the width of over-the bank flows.

Faced with the extreme prospects of a next storm, the advisory board has taken a major step to make this objective of reducing peak flow damage and is working with private and public partners to encourage homeowners and commercial property owners to act on their own and to get municipal governments and school boards to implement a regional plan.

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