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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2014

Contact: Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Lawrence Ragonese (609) 292-2994
Bob Considine (609) 984-1795

CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION LAUNCHES PROJECTS TO IMPROVE
ENVIRONMENT, HEALTH AND QUALITY OF LIFE FOR CAMDEN RESIDENTS

COOPERATIVE INITIATIVE UTILIZES MANY PARTNERS TO REDUCE FLOODING,
IMPROVE WATER QUALITY AND CREATE PARKS

(14/P76) TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is teaming up with the city of Camden, the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority and numerous other partners to improve the environment, health and quality of life in the city through a series of projects that will reduce flooding by increasing the city’s inventory of rain gardens, improving and establishing parks, and even restoring a stream to improve drainage to the Delaware River in one neighborhood.

The key funding partner for the Camden Collaborative Initiative is the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust (NJEIT), which is providing approximately $8 million in subsidized financing over a two-year period that will pay for a significant majority of the projects. The funding will pay for construction of green and traditional infrastructure improvements as well as creation and enhancements to parks. The projects are expected to annually prevent 100 million gallons of stormwater from flooding neighborhoods.
 
"The DEP is committed to helping Camden and all of New Jersey's urban areas deal with environmental problems that are important to revitalization,” DEP Deputy Commissioner Michele Siekerka said during kick-off ceremonies today at Von Nieda Park in the city’s Cramer Hill section.

 “We are working closely with officials in our cities to address past environmental problems and work toward a healthier future,” Deputy Commissioner Siekerka added. “This partnership in Camden demonstrates how effectively state, local and federal government agencies can work together on difficult, longstanding issues in urban areas to make a difference for the health and quality of life of residents.”

“When everyone comes together for the good of the community, just look what can happen,” said Camden Mayor Dana Redd. “Tackling Von Neida’s flooding problems in response to resident concerns, coupled with the alignment of all these great minds, will surely result in substantive changes that will favorably impact the quality of life for the people who live, work and play in Camden.”

Stormwater is often contaminated with gasoline, motor oil, and other motor vehicle fluids, sewage, and other pollutants. The idea behind these projects is to reduce flooding by repairing damaged infrastructure and creating opportunities for stormwater to naturally filter back into the ground so it doesn’t flow over streets and collect in flood-prone neighborhoods.

These projects will also reduce the amount of stormwater that flows into the CCMUA treatment plant system. Like many urban areas, Camden has an antiquated piping system that collects both wastewater and stormwater runoff in an integrated network of pipes. In larger storms, the excessive rain can exceed the CCMUA’s treatment plant capacity, resulting in discharges to the Delaware River of stormwater mixed with wastewater.

The NJEIT, an independent state financing agency, provides municipalities with attractive financing such as principal forgiveness and low interest loans, to fund projects that improve water quality in New Jersey. The financing package includes $2 million in principal forgiveness loans, the equivalent of a grant, and the rest of the funding is at an interest rate expected to be less than one percent.

“The entire Camden community is to be commended for the strategic manner in which they have approached the stormwater runoff problem in their neighborhoods, tackling it in an environmentally and fiscally responsible way,” said David Zimmer, NJEIT Executive Director.

These projects fit in with the objectives of the Camden Stormwater Management and Resource Training (SMART) initiative, which has been developing a comprehensive network of green infrastructure programs and projects for the city. The initiative involves the city of Camden, the DEP, the CCMUA, the Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program, New Jersey Tree Foundation, other public and private partners, community organizations, and most important, Camden residents.

 “The Camden County MUA is very proud to be part of this latest Camden SMART initiative to address the flooding problems in Von Nieda Park, replace failing sewers throughout Camden, add green infrastructure elements and create riverfront parkland,” said CCMUA Executive Director Andrew Kricun. “Both the low interest financing from the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, and technical support from the NJDEP, have made these environmentally beneficial projects possible for the residents of Camden City.  These projects take the Camden SMART initiative to the next level.”

The initiative includes neighborhood green and grey infrastructure projects, stormwater management policy development, and green infrastructure training programs. Within its first three years, the Camden SMART initiative has resulted in the construction of 35 rain gardens, hundreds of tree plantings, and distribution of hundreds of rain barrels for residents and businesses.

This new phase of the Camden effort will include a series of projects:

  • Rehabilitate Von Neida Park, which will include the construction of additional green stormwater management facilities and the separation of a section of combined sewers.
  • Baldwin’s Run Tributary Trail Project will restore a previously filled tidal stream in Cramer Hill. New piping and basins will divert stormwater to Baldwin’s run.  A trail system will be built to provide public access to the reestablished waterway.
  • Construction of 17 new neighborhood rain gardens across the city, bringing the total to 52, as well as installation of planters and pavement that allows stormwater to seep into the ground. 
  • Reconstruct eight strategic combined sewage system pipes throughout the city that have clogged or collapsed, restoring capacity to those lines and eliminating neighborhood backups.
  • The Phoenix Park-Phase 1project will create a 5.5- acre neighborhood park on the site of an abandoned contaminated site in the Waterfront South neighborhood.  The first phase of this project consists of the removal of approximately six acres of concrete, the remediation of contaminants, the planting of trees, shrubs and grasses, and the installation of a parking surface that allows rainwater to soak into the ground. This site is adjacent to the CCMUA treatment plant and will provide a public access point to the waterfront in this neighborhood. 
For more information, please visit:  www.camdensmart.com/

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