Recent rains provided enough moisture to gauge the functionality of the rain garden constructed by the American Littoral Society at Cumberland Insurance on Shiloh Pike in Bridgeton, NJ.
The result? Exactly as intended, with stormwater from the site collecting in the new garden and eventually seeping into the ground.
The 4,000 square foot rain garden is part of a two-phase projectand addresses water runoff from the company's parking area. The project builds upon work begun in 2014 with the creation of a 7.5 acre grassland along Barrett’s Run, a tributary of the Cohansey River, that runs through Hopewell Township, Cumberland County.
This is just one of several Delaware River watershed protection projects that have been done under grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). These projects focus on improving water quality and quantity in the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer.
The rain garden was done in partnership with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Waters Resources Program, and R.H. Excavation of Hopewell Township. The rain garden was planted in early June by employees of Cumberland Insurance.
Prior to the garden being installed, rainwater from the site would pool on the surface and run across a mowed turf lawn into an retention basin. At times the basin would overflow into the adjacent roadway, then into Barrett’s Run.
In addition to the obvious runoff issue, the project location was selected because Cumberland Insurance is a proponent of open space and owns several large tracts of farmland along Barrett’s Run on the side of the creek opposite the grassland project.
Rain gardens are intended to reduce stormwater runoff and allow rainwater to seep into the groundwater supply. While this was a very large application of the rain garden technique and required heavy machinery, rain gardens come in many sizes and can be constructed by homeowners using hand tools.
Click here to find the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program rain garden manual.
The second phase of the project will address an area on adjacent farmland that funnels 70 acres of agricultural runoff into a narrow area which drains directly into Barrett’s Run. Planning for phase two is almost complete and work will begin in September.