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Managing Stormwater in the Pinelands

Get involved in our Landscape Makeover Program and learn about stormwater management.

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Protecting wetlands is at the heart of what we do. Pinelands water bodies are extremely sensitive to human influences from housing developments, agricultural activities, septic systems, landfills, and the application of fertilizers and pesticides. Flooding and the resulting stormwater runoff into our streams and rivers pose a threat to human and ecological health.

In 2017 we launched the South Jersey Landscape Makeover Program with several partner non-profits and environmental organizations.  Our goal was to increase the number of Green Stormwater Infrastructure installations in specific parts of the Pinelands and reduce the amount of polluted runoff that goes into Pinelands’ waterbodies. We’ve also launched the Burlington County Landscape Makeover Program in recent years, with an emphasis on townships near our offices. These Landscape Makeover Programs are funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the William Penn Foundation. Both programs primarily involve installing rain gardens with beautiful wet-tolerant native plants at eligible municipal locations to manage and filter polluted stormwater runoff. The rain gardens do more than manage stormwater for local communities; they bring communities together for shared maintenance, attract pollinators such as butterflies, bees, and birds to the area and add a vibrant pop of color to communities during the spring, summer and fall.

This program is not limited to municipal installations, we also have a residential program! Property owners within eligible areas can receive a rebate of up to $450 to install their own rain garden. Find out more about eligibility and the residential rebate program below.

What is Green Stormwater Infrastructure?

Green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) filters and absorbs rain where it falls.  It can include bioswales, rain barrels, permeable pavement, and rain gardens, amongst other solutions. These types of stormwater management methods differ from traditional “gray” stormwater infrastructure that move water away such as detention and retention basins, storm drains, pipes, and the Combined Sewer Systems which many of the older east coast communities employ.

Rain Garden Rebate Program

As part of our Landscape Makeover Program, we offer rebates for homeowners in select zip codes and areas who attended a Rain Garden 101 webinar, work with engineers from Rutgers Cooperative Extension for an individualize design session free of charge, and install the designed rain garden on their property themselves. Below, a recording of one of our Rain Garden 101 sessions that took place this past spring can be found. There is one in English and another narrated in Spanish (coming soon).

Our Installations In South Jersey

There have been 90 residential and municipal projects completed since the Landscape Makeover Program began in 2017. These projects include rain gardens, rain barrels, and cisterns. We are expanding the program in 2023 with the Landscape Makeover Program for Delaware River Communities, emphasizing communities directly on the Delaware River Watershed. Additionally, we anticipate our current South Jersey and Burlington County Landscape Makeover Programs to continue.

How can I get Involved?

If you’d like to find out more about getting a municipal Green Stormwater Infrastructure installation in your town, please reach out to jack@pinelandsalliance.org.

If you wish to pursue our residential rebate program, the first step is to attend one of our Rain Garden 101 webinars hosted by Rutgers University – or simply watch the recording below. Eligible residents can then email jack@pinelandsalliance.org to learn more about receiving a 30-minute individualized design session with Rutgers’ engineers to collaborate on a design plan for their yard.

Information on eligibility, the next available Rain Garden 101 session, and how to sign up can be found on the South Jersey Watersavers Website here. .

Watch this recording of a previous Rain Garden 101 session and reach out to jack@pinelandsalliance.org for next steps. We hold multiple design sessions each year.
SPANISH AUDIO / AUDIO ESPAÑOL – si eres hispanohablante puedes usar el audio y empezar el video arriba a las 0:57

Landscape Makeover Program – 2022 Recap

This past season has been a busy one for us at PPA! We installed a total of 10 Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) projects as part of our Landscape Makeover Program. These included two cisterns and eight rain gardens. Below are a few photos showing just how beautiful these installations can be.

Rain Garden at the Evesham Memorial Park Blue Barn, installed Spring 2022
Rain water from a cistern installed at Evesham Memorial Park Blue Barn being used to irrigate the nearby community garden
Rain garden with educational sign displayed at Samuel T. Busansky Elementary School in Pemberton, installed Spring 2022
Thank You card from the 5th grade class at Samuel T. Busansky
Rain garden at Adath Emanu-el Synagoge in Mt. Laurel, installed Fall 2022

Flooding to Flourishing Fridays

This spring we hosted five webinars focused on stormwater which ran from late February thru late April. The topics covered included the benefits of native plants, the nationwide adopt-a-drain program, how to build a rain barrel, a deep dive into the Jersey Friendly Yards website, and a presentation on the benefits of riparian buffers. It was wonderful to see and experience the Pinelands community (in addition to people from all over the country!) engaging with stormwater management issues and solutions every other Friday morning throughout the season. Stormwater runoff can cause nuisance flooding to properties and bring harmful pollutants such as motor oil and lawn treatment pesticides to local waterways if left unmanaged. Fortunately, there are many ways to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of stormwater runoff in areas with a lot of impervious surfaces like asphalt parking lots and roads. These strategies can include using native plants to absorb and filter stormwater in rain gardens.

Below is a presentation given by Dr. Randi Eckle, President of the New Jersey Native Plant Society, on the Flooding to Flourishing Fridays webinar.

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