Ten Towns Committee
2005-2006 Annual Report
 
ANNUAL REPORT

TEN TOWNS GREAT SWAMP

WATERSHED MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

July 2005 – June 2006

The Great Swamp Watershed Management Committee (the Committee) recently completed its 11th year of service to member communities.  Operating through an inter-local governmental agreement, the Counties of Morris and Somerset together with Bernards Township, Bernardsville Borough, Chatham Township, Harding Township, Morris Township, Long Hill Township, Madison Borough, the Town of Morristown, Mendham Borough and Mendham Township have worked together to protect and improve the water quality of the feeder tributaries of the Great Swamp National Refuge.

The purpose of this report is to provide Governing Bodies, Planning Boards, Environmental Commissions and other interested citizens with an overview of The Committee’s activities during the last 12 months.  The Committee holds regular public meetings and publishes the results of its work on its website, tentowns.org.  Meeting dates and times are posted on the website and the public is cordially invited to attend.

2005-2006 PROGRAM AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS

The Ten Towns Committee provided municipal and county representatives with a diverse program of interesting speakers during the year.  Eight different programs were offered to Ten Towns members.  Representatives of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) informed members on how to best utilize DEP enforcement procedures and actions; Dr. Leland Pollock reviewed the results of his Macro-Invertebrate study on the five Great Swamp feeder streams; and, at the 11th Anniversary meeting, Senator Robert Martin reflected on the issues that gave rise to the organization more than a decade ago.  Senator Martin’s comments were the subject of an editorial in the Observer Tribune newspaper group.  A copy of the editorial is included with this report.

The Executive Committee met 11 times during the year to provide the Executive Director with the Committee’s policy guidance on grants and programs.

As detailed below, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) awarded the Ten Towns funding for a stream bank restoration program through the Service’s Natural Resource Restoration Assistance program.  USFWS designated the Committee as the lead agency for publicizing the program to agencies within the Great Swamp Watershed.  In addition to Ten Towns, cooperative agreements for work in the watershed were given to the Somerset County Park Commission, The Great Swamp Watershed Association and the Harding Land Trust.  Ten Towns is proud to have served as the lead agency for these funds.

1.  Christ the King Church/Bayne Park Project

Funded by an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant in 2001, the Committee completed another best management practices demonstration project at Christ the King Church in Harding.  Storm water drainage from a large parking area ran off directly into a feeder stream of the Great Swamp Refuge.  Significant bank erosion stripped the vegetation away during times of high stream flow.  Working with representatives of the Church, officials from Harding Township and others, storm water is now re-routed into a basin that diminishes the velocities and provides for bio filtration of the water.  In addition, several hundred feet of stream bank have been restored and equipped with environmentally friendly protection to prevent erosion.  Hundreds of wetlands planting have been added to further stabilize the area together with new grasses that will enhance the overall stream corridor.

Across the street from Christ the King Church, Bayne Park provides for passive recreation for Harding Township residents.  A picturesque pond is in the center of the park.  Utilizing EPA funding, Ten Towns provided hundreds of new wetland plants and shrubs to enhance the park.  Harding Township officials and representatives of local garden clubs joined planting the new vegetation.  Now, the pond has native vegetation that will make a lasting difference to the community.

Princeton Hydro, LLC designed the improvements and supervised the construction and installation of the materials.

2.  Loantaka Brook Stream Bank Restoration Project

In June 2005, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced that Ten Towns had been awarded a cooperative agreement with the agency in the amount of $113,000 for work on upgrading the Loantaka Brook stream banks.  This funding along with some funds remaining from a DEP prior grant enabled the Committee to undertake a significant project in Morris Township.  The Loantaka Brook is the most impaired stream of the five feeder streams in the Refuge.  Storm flow had deteriorated the stream banks as the brook meandered through a Township park.

With substantial in-kind work from Morris Township, over 1,100 feet of stream bank was restored including 300 feet of bio-engineering, 75 feet of rip rap, and 755 feet of vegetation.  Designed by Princeton Hydro with construction work performed by Enviroscapes, Inc., the project provides residents of Morris Township with both an environmentally friendly and esthetically pleasant improvement to the park.

3.  Water Quality Monitoring Program

The Committee is now in its 9th year of the on going Water Quality Monitoring Program.  Utilizing the Stream Team Volunteers and the coordination of the Great Swamp Watershed Association, a comprehensive database of water quality data is available to the public and the scientific community.  Samples are taken quarterly of both base and storm flow conditions with the results analyzed at an independent State certified laboratory.  Funding for this important activity came from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation plus money from a 2005 EPA grant.

The Committee also supports and funds the work of Dr. Leland Pollock who conducts annual macro-invertebrate studies of the stream to determine the health of the streams.

Together, these water quality activities are of growing importance as the Committee seeks funding for future projects to improve water quality of the streams feeding the Refuge.

2005 EPA GRANT

The 2005 Federal Budget included a special $248,000 appropriation for the Ten Towns.  The majority of this funding will be utilized for a comprehensive study of the Loantaka Brook.  As mentioned above, the Loantaka Brook is the most impaired stream of the five feeder streams.  Included in the study are:

  • A detailed hydrological and hydraulic analysis of the brooks headwaters.
  • Design of stream bank and channel stabilization of 2,000 feet of the brooks severely eroded banks.
  • Preliminary design of an off-line created wetland treatment area.
  • Continuation of the Committee’s Water Quality Monitoring Program.
Several of these ambitious tasks are currently underway as is the pending approval of a Quality Assurance Project Plan required as part of the grant.  The Committee expects that some of these tasks will be completed during the 2006-2007 fiscal year with completion of the balance during the 2007-2008 fiscal year.

The Committee wishes to acknowledge the outstanding work done by former Chair Dr. Leonard Hamilton who prepared a white paper on the issues surrounding the Loantaka Brook.  His paper formed the basis for the EPA grant.

PENDING GRANT APPLICATIONS

The Committee has two applications pending for funding under the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) 319(h) program that were submitted in June 2006.

  1. Development of a Watershed Protection Plan for the Upper Passaic River Watershed – The Committee has conducted and completed watershed assessment and protection plans for four of the five Great Swamp Refuge feeder streams over the 11 years of the Committee’s existence.  This application requests $183,052 to complete the final feeder stream.  If funded, the study will be available to all participating communities and the public.
  2. Watershed Based Plan Implementation Project in the Loantaka Brook/Kitchell Pond Watershed – This application continues the Committee’s work on the most impaired stream by providing 200 feet of aquascaping of Kitchell Pond’s shoreline.  The second element involves the construction of a bioretention swale along the down gradient edge of the Loantaka Park parking lot where it currently runs directly into the pond untreated and unmanaged.
As part of the application process, both projects have received the support of the member municipalities and counties.  The Committee appreciates the encouragement of its member communities and counties.

2006-2007 WORK PLAN

As outlined above, there is substantial work to be accomplished in the current budget year utilizing the funding received from the USEPA.  The Committee anticipates that 75% of the work authorized in the grant will be completed during the year with the remainder completed next year.

Assuming the Committee receives funding from DEP for pending applications, work will begin immediately on both projects.  In recent years, grant notification and awarding of funds has been delayed for a variety of reasons therefore, it may be unrealistic to have one or both projects completed by the end of the year.

While the future of the 319(h) program is uncertain given the budgetary constraints in Trenton, the Committee will continue to apply for additional funding during the current fiscal year.

Work will continue on the Water Quality Monitoring Program during the current fiscal year.  The Committee recognizes that much of the field equipment needs replacement after years of exposure to the weather.  The Committee hopes to find funding through private foundations or State and Federal Grants to address this issue.

In an effort to reduce costs for all Passaic River based watershed groups, Ten Towns is taking the lead in exploring consolidation of laboratory services for other groups that conduct water quality testing similar to the Committee.  By joining with other groups, it is anticipated that the per unit cost can be reduced given a higher volume of samples.

Finally, the Committee will continue to conduct at least eight meetings for member communities providing speakers and presentations that assist us in meeting our goal of helping to protect and improve water quality in the Great Swamp Watershed.  The Executive Committee will continue to meet on a monthly basis.

OFFICERS AND STAFF

At the June 2006 meeting the Nominating Committee recommended, and the full Committee approved the following slate of officers:

  • Chair – Jan Wotowicz, Morris Township.  Jan has served as a member of the Executive Committee for nine years most recently as Vice Chair.  He is a member of the Morris Township Committee and has served as Mayor on several occasions.
  • Vice Chair – William Hutchinson, Madison.  Bill moved to Vice Chairman in 2005 having served as Treasurer for the last several years.  He is a licensed professional engineer and is currently the Executive Director/Chief Engineer for the Southeast Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority.
  • Treasurer – Terry Thompson, Bernardsville Borough.  A long time member of the Ten Towns, her activities include participation in Bernardsville’s Planning Board, Library Board and numerous other civic groups.  Most recently Terry co-chaired our Tenth Anniversary Celebration.
  • Secretary – Stephen Mountain, Mendham Township.  Steve is a career municipal manager who has served as the Mendham Township Administrator for many years.  He has served on various county-wide committees and is also active with the Raritan Highlands Compact, a new watershed group formed within the last two years.
At the same meeting in June, the Committee approved the following professional staff:
Executive Director – Harry G. Gerken
Consulting Environmental Engineer – Princeton Hydro, LLC.
Independent Auditor – Olsen and Thompson, PA
Office Manager – Maureen Sullivan

The Ten Towns Great Swamp Watershed Management Committee maintains an office at 2 Ridgedale Avenue, Suite 200, Cedar Knolls, NJ 07927.  The Committee is a registered 501(c) (3) not for profit corporation.

The Committee hosts a comprehensive website that details its activities with links to numerous scientific studies it has conducted since its inception including all water quality data.  To visit the website, use tentowns.org.

One of the major strengths of the Ten Towns Committee has been the continuity of leadership during its first ten years of existence.  The decisions of Len Hamilton to step down as Chair and Abbie Fair to vacate her post as Secretary created the need for two new officers.

At the June 2006 meeting the Nominating Committee recommended and the full Committee approved the following slate of officers:

  • Chair – Jan Wotowicz, Morris Township.  Jan has served as a member of the Executive Committee for eight years most recently as Vice Chair.  He is a member of the Morris Township Committee and has served as Mayor on several occasions.
  • Vice Chair – William Hutchinson, Madison.  Bill moves up to Vice Chairman having served as Treasurer for the last several years.  He is a licensed professional engineer and is currently the Executive Director/Chief Engineer for the Southeast Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority.
  • Treasurer – Terry Thompson, Bernardsville Borough.  A long time member of the Ten Towns, her activities include participation in Bernardsville’s Planning Board, Library Board and numerous other civic groups.  Most recently Terry co-chaired our Tenth Anniversary Celebration.
  • Secretary – Garry Annibal, Harding Township.  Garry serves as the Health Administrator as well as the Assistant Township Administrator for Harding Township.  He has more than 30 years of progressive experience investigating and resolving environmental, health and safety issues.

ADMINISTRATIVE ISSUES

The Ten Towns Committee was the first of four watershed groups serving Morris and Somerset Counties.  Others are the Rockaway River Watershed Cabinet, the Whippany River Watershed Action Committee and just last year, the Raritan-Highlands Cabinet.  Each of the organizations is committed to protecting and improving water quality in the various watersheds.

Under the leadership of Morris Tomorrow’s Issues Committee and the Morris County Freeholders, representatives of each group are meeting to explore opportunities to reduce expenses by potentially sharing services.  Water quality testing and sampling are two areas where savings are possible.  Each agency must provide liability insurance and other administrative issues that might be the subject of shared services.  Ten Towns is committed to exploring all reasonable methods to keeping expenses at the lowest possible costs.  We expect that significant progress will be made on shared services in the coming year.

 


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2005-2006 Annual Report