The American Littoral Society’s work as a South Jersey Water Savers partner organization was recently featured on the POP FM 99.9 radio program Local Interviews with John Salvatore.
In the 4-part interview series, Salvatore discussed the ongoing collaboration between SJ Water Savers and local businesses, farmers, municipalities, and schools. The work aims to address flooding concerns, minimize polluted stormwater runoff, improve wildlife habitat, beautify communities, and create outdoor learning spaces.
SJ Water Savers is an educational campaign led by nine environmental organizations, as a part of the Delaware River Watershed Initiative, which is funded by the William Penn Foundation. The campaign’s goal is to protect the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer – South Jersey’s primary source of water. The American Littoral Society is one of the partners in this initiative.
For one part of the interview series, Salvatore spoke with Zach Nickerson, a Conservation Coordinator from the American Littoral Society’s Delaware Bay office, and Amber Egorov, a 4th grade Science and Social Studies teacher from Anthony Rossi Elementary School in Vineland, NJ, about the installation of 2 rain gardens at the school.
The rain gardens help slow the flow of stormwater runoff from the school’s roof top and parking lots, allowing water to filter into the ground to recharge the aquifer below.
Ergorov’s students have taken ownership of caring for the garden while using the space as a living laboratory for science exploration. The Littoral Society visits the school regularly, providing hands-on outdoor lessons to teach students about the importance of rain gardens for water conservation and wildlife habitat.
Also featured in the POP FM 99.9 interview series was Cheryl Reardon from the Association of NJ Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) and Julianne Donnini co-owner of Auburn Road Vineyard & Winery. They showcased their rain garden project installed in Spring 2022 to manage stormwater runoff and flooding on the vineyard’s property.
Grape vines need proper drainage in order to successfully grow. However, with the heavy deluges of rainwater that often hit South Jersey, the vineyard frequently had drainage issues. The new rain garden turned what had been an eyesore into a beautiful garden of native plants.
“It has beautified our site. It has enhanced our drainage system. It has encouraged beneficial insects," Donnini said. “We cannot say enough about the experience. We are extremely grateful for this project.”
Salvatore also spoke with Alyssa Bright of New Jersey Audubon and Cody Cassaday of Cassaday Farm and Coastal Orchards in Monroeville, NJ. They focused on the Healthy Land and Waters Grant program, which provides technical and/or financial assistance to farmers and landowners who have an interest in implementing conservation practices to improve or enhance the quality of soil, water, and wildlife habitat on their property. Conservation practices include but are not limited to cover crops, residue tillage management, and strips of vegetation planted next to streams or other water bodies (aka riparian buffers).
The grant funds received by Cassaday Farm were put towards various conservation practices, including new no-till equipment that has less environmental impact and protects local waterways from sediment runoff while improving crop yields and soil quality.
The New Jersey Audubon Healthy Land and Waters Grant program is funded by the William Penn Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s water quality restoration grants.
For another segment, Salvatore spoke with Evesham Township Councilwoman Patricia Hansen and Jack McCausland, a Water Outreach Specialist with the Pinelands Preservation Alliance. They talked about their work to install green stormwater infrastructure, including a rain garden and cisterns, at a local recreational building and fire station. The goal with the work was to reduce flooding, attract pollinators and people, and reuse and conserve water and the benefits these projects have brought to the community.
Along with the help of Evesham Environmental Commission, Evesham Green Team, and Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program, this partnership has advanced Evesham Township's environmental initiatives and beautified the community.
Jack also mentioned the SJ Watersavers Landscape Makeover Program which provides funding for residents in specific communities to receive rebates for installing rain gardens on their property.
Check out all of the South Jersey Water Savers interviews through the POP FM 99.9 Podcast link.