Storm water management experts proposed ten regional practices to deal with water infiltration for the 24 municipalities affected by the Rahway River watershed, which spans three counties, Essex, Morris and Union, in Thursday evening's conference.
Millburn Mayor Sandra Haimoff welcomed other township officials to the Millburn Library, saying they could prevent overflowing of the Rahway River by working together.
The Rahway River Watershed Storm Water Management Conference educated township officials with presentations from Sandy Batty, executive director of Association of New Jersey Environmental Commission and Dr. Chris Obropta, Dr. Amy Rowe and Michel Bakacs from Rutgers.
The Rutgers' presentations gave possible small steps townships could take to lower storm water runoff, such as rain gardens, green car washes, rain barrels or permeable pavements. These solutions have already been implemented in Clark and Maplewood with a $500,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Protection.
Obropta discouraged larger solutions that could take 10 to 20 years to complete. He used a reservoir in South Mountain Reservation as an example, saying residents would need their members of congress to lobby for money to support it.
The plan he suggested would only need 25 percent of residents to participate in green technology solutions, but it could reduce runoff by 16 percent in a large storm. It would also only cost $38,000.
Batty's presentation detailed state regulations that townships should be following. "You can be stricter than state regulations," she encouraged.
After presenting the ten actions, a Cranford township official asked Obropta what is missing from the list.
Obropta responded, "What's really missing here is a plan. I think by having a plan, prioritizing and getting partners will help."
The recommended actions presented were:
- Ten percent reduction of runoff on municipal and school facilities by 2015.
- Mandatory training for planning and zoning boards members on storm water management regulations.
- Establish Rahway Tier Watershed Storm Water Advisory Board to allow townships to attract for grants from DEP.
- Amend ordinances on additions or any impervious surfaces added by homeowners that are 250-square-feet.
- Sponsor three demonstrations of green technology project in the upstream of the Rahway River.
- Develop a program of best practices for public and planning and zoning boards.
- Distribute 5,000 rain barrels. Suggested to provide rebates instead of just giving away.
- Plant 10,000 trees outside floodway that will survive by 2016.
- Ask 10 largest property owners to adopt green technology to reduce runoff by 10 percent.
- Develop a regional open space program geared toward flood control.