The Great Swamp Watershed Management Committee (the Committee) recently completed its 12th 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.
2006-2007 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. Dr. Leland Pollock reviewed the results of his Macro-Invertebrate study on the five Great Swamp feeder streams; Dr. Stephen Souza provided the Trustees with an overview of the water quality monitoring program. Other programs included a presentation by representatives of Chatham Township on programs being initiated to improve the environmental quality of their community. As usual, there were diversified speakers and lively dialogue on water quality issues within the Great Swamp Watershed.
The Executive Committee met 11 times during the year to provide the Executive Director with the Committee’s policy guidance on grants and programs.
During the first part of the 2006-2007 budget year, Ten Towns Committee conducted final inspections and closed out grants with various agencies that included the following projects:
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.
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.
3. On Going Water Quality Monitoring Program
The Committee is now in its 11th year of the on going Water Quality Monitoring Program. Through this program, 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 at the streams that flow into the Great Swamp, using the Stream Team Volunteers and the coordination services of the Great Swamp Watershed Association. The stream samples are 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:
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
2007-2008 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 grant, work will begin immediately on the design aspect with construction expected sometime in 2009. In recent years, grant notification and awarding of funds has been delayed for a variety of reasons. Therefore, it may be unrealistic to have this project 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. We expect that the US Fish and Wildlife Service will allow a few of the left over Federal dollars to be used to upgrade equipment. In addition, the Committee hopes to find funding through private foundations or State and Federal Grants to address this issue.
The USEPA Grant that is currently covering the cost of the water quality monitoring program will expire in December of 2008. Ten Towns is currently working on a program that may include a cooperative agreement with the Great Swamp Watershed Association and one or more private water companies to fund this activity in the next year.
Ten Towns is also planning to host a science forum on the water quality issues that confront the Great Swamp tributaries in late Spring or early Summer 2008. Utilizing the data obtained from the Water Quality Monitoring Program and the stream characterization studies, Ten Towns will enlist the help of its environmental consultant and technical experts from the Great Swamp Watershed Association to educate planning, environmental and interested citizens on the results of the various studies in the watershed.
OFFICERS AND STAFF
At the June 2007 meeting the Nominating Committee recommended, and the full Committee approved the following slate of officers:
At the same meeting in June, the Committee approved the following professional staff:
- Chair – Jan Wotowicz, Morris Township. Jan has served as a member of the Executive Committee for ten 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.
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.