DEP GRANTS $147,500
FOR WETLANDS RESTORATION ALONG RAHWAY RIVER
Project will improve water quality and open space in Union/Allen
RAHWAY --Department of Environmental Protection
(DEP) Commissioner Bob Shinn today awarded $147,500 for
restorations along the Rahway River in the city's Union
and Allen street area, once a chronically flooded neighborhood.
"This grant is the next step in a
series of partnerships among all levels of government and
the private sector that will turn a problem flood area into
a beneficial and attractive open space with a park-like
setting that will improve the river's water quality, as
well as the local quality of life," Shinn said. "The
City of Rahway, which initiated this proactive project,
is to be commended, along with the many partners, for this
endeavor which will serve as a model on how to restore urban,
flood-prone properties to benefit a community."
Shinn presented a $45,000 advance check
to the American Littoral Society-NY/NJ Baykeeper, the lead
agency for the two-year Rahway project that will restore
a five-acre wetlands area. The restoration will improve
water quality at the head of tide in the North Branch of
the Rahway River, near the confluence with Robinson's Branch.
Andrew J Willner, director of NY/NJ Baykeeper
said, "This kind of public private partnership involving
local communities may be the only way we can restore urban
stream corridors and other wildlife resources. When the
public participates in wildlife habitat and open space restoration
they become invested in their river, stream or bay".
By restoring the wetlands, the project
will help filter pollutants from storm water runoff and
will provide for storm water retention to minimize flooding.
It also will provide for public access to the river for
recreation and watershed education, and will provide wildlife
habitat. The area is planned to be added to the Union County
Park System's Rahway River Parkway as a gift to the Open
"By restoring wetlands along the Rahway
we increase wildlife resources and community access to a
new river park," said Dery Bennett, executive director
of the American Littoral Society.
The project includes regrading, installing
piping and riprap to prevent erosion, and planting native
species vegetation to optimize pollutant removal. Volunteers
will be recruited to plant the vegetation and conduct monitoring.
The vegetation will be maintained to ensure long-term survival.
The funding is administered by DEP's Division
of Watershed Management as part of a nonpoint source pollution
grant program under the federal Clean Water Act. The Rahway
River is part of the Arthur Kill Watershed Management Area
7 in the Raritan Watershed Region. Union County last year
signed a contract with DEP and received funding to lead
the development of a comprehensive management plan for the
Rahway, Elizabeth rivers and Arthur Kill watershed (Area
7) which covers 250 square miles in parts of Union, Hudson,
Essex and Middlesex counties.
Other partners in the Rahway project include:
the Rahway River Association, Union County Division of Engineering
and Bureau of Parks Operations, Omni Environmental Corporation,
NY/NJ Harbor Estuary Program, DEP's Green Acres Program,
the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), NJ State
Police, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The total cost for the construction of
the entire project is estimated at $500.000. The partners
have requested funding from several sources including Union
County, the NJ Wetlands Mitigation Council and the Merck
Foundation. With funding assistance from the Wetlands Mitigation
Council, the city completed the project design and obtained
the necessary permits.
The City of Rahway had secured $750,000
in DEP Green Acres funding and funds from FEMA through the
NJ State Police, Emergency Management, to purchase and demolish
several homes located along this section of the river that
had been frequently damaged by flooding. The city then prepared
a concept plan and preliminary design for the restoration.
The Rahway River Association will assist with construction
and long-term monitoring of this project.