The Great Swamp Watershed Management Committee (the Committee) recently completed its 13th 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.
2007-2008 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. Another program provided a comprehensive evaluation of the Ten Towns mission and planning for the future of the organization.
The Executive Committee met 11 times during the year to provide the Executive Director with the Committee’s policy guidance on grants and programs.
On Going Water Quality Monitoring Program
The Committee is now in its 12th 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 samples of 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 current round of monitoring is being funded by the EPA Grant.
The Committee also supports and funds the work of Dr. Leland Pollock who conducts annual macro-invertebrate studies of the streams to determine the health of the streams. His annual presentations are open to the general public and are posted on the Ten Towns Website.
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 and/or have been completed and preliminary designs prepared. The Committee expects that the grant will be completed as scheduled at the end of calendar year 2008 or early in 2009.
- 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.
APPROVED GRANT APPLICATIONS
The Committee has received approval of its request for funding under the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) 319(h) program. The program is described below:
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.
Work has begun on preliminary design of the project with significant help and support from the Morris County Park Commission. Weather permitting, it is anticipated that this work will be completed in 2009.
Modification to the United States Fish and Wildlife Agreement is also being considered by the Agency. The proposed modifications are described below:
Ten Towns Committee will fund a base line study of the Penn’s Brook, a tributary of the Upper Passaic located in Borough of Bernardsville. Working in cooperation with the Great Swamp Watershed Association who will also contribute funding to the study, The Committee hopes to utilize these scientific studies as a basis for additional State funding. In addition, money has been requested to continue the Water Quality Monitoring Program and for some equipment replacement.
2008-2009 WORK PLAN
As outlined above, The USEPA Grant is expected to be completed by the end of calendar year 2008. A final report will be drafted and given to member communities while the preliminary designs of the other projects may be ranked for possible grant applications from both State and Federal sources.
The Morris County Park Commission is working closely with the Ten Towns Committee to improve the water quality drainage into Kitchell Pond as part of the DEP 319(h) grant program. Work is underway and with cooperation from the weather, it is anticipated that this project will be completed in the fall of 2009.
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.
In addition to the scientific work underway as well as the two projects, the Committee will be addressing its future with each of the member municipalities. Serious cut backs in funding from various sources have caused significant in house budget reductions and, in fact, required the Committee to adopt its first six month budget pending additional funding and expense information. A second six month budget was adopted in January 2009.
Compounding the financial situation is the expiration of the second five year agreement between the member communities and the Committee at the end of calendar year 2009. The Committee is planning a number of special activities and events to re-acquaint member communities with the mission and accomplishments of Ten Towns.
OFFICERS AND STAFF
At the June 2008 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 for three years.
- 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 Office Manager is paid through an arrangement with Morris Tomorrow and the other professionals are contract employees.
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.