Rutgers Cooperative Extension: Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) Cooperative Extension helps the diverse population of New Jersey adapt to a rapidly changing society and improve their lives and communities through an educational process that uses science-based knowledge. Through science-based educational programs, Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) truly enhances the quality of life for residents of New Jersey and brings the wealth of knowledge of the state university to local communities. RCE focuses on issues and needs relating to agriculture and the environment; management of natural resources; food safety, quality, and health; family stability; economic security; and youth development. RCE is an integral part of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, the New Jersey Agriculture Experiment Station, and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, the State of New Jersey, and County Boards of Chosen Freeholders.
The Water Resources Program: The Water Resources Program is one of many specialty programs under RCE. Dr. Obropta created the RCE Water Resources Program in 2002 and has developed it into an award winning state-wide program dedicated to solving New Jersey's water resources issues. Through competitive grants secured from local, state, and national entities, the program now supports several full-time staff, part-time community outreach specialists, and undergraduate students. The diversity of backgrounds of this staff reflects the variety of needs to be addressed and the holistic approach needed to solve New Jersey's water resources issues. With engineers, scientists, educators, landscape architects, and other design professionals, the team routinely approaches each project and program from a multidisciplinary point of view. The mission of the Water Resources Program is to identify and address community water resources issues using sustainable and practical science-based solutions. This is accomplished through research, project development, assessment and extension and through the collaborative efforts of our many regional, national, and international partners.
As there are numerous water resources issues in New Jersey, as a program, we have narrowed our focus to address the following issues: Agricultural Water Management, Stormwater Management & Green Infrastructure, and Watershed Planning & Restoration.
The Upper Cohansey River Watershed Agricultural Mini-Grant Program provides funding for producers to implement agricultural management practices (AMPs) that improve water quality in the Upper Cohansey River and its tributaries or to promote water conservation and efficiency. The Mini-Grant Program is intended to expand the implementation of conservation AMPs by providing funding either as a complement to United States Department of Agriculture Farm Bill programs or as a sole-source of funding for applicable AMPs.
The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC) has partnered with the Water Resources Program to pilot a green infrastructure municipal outreach and technical assistance program providing guidance and direction to municipalities in the PVSC service area regarding the benefits and opportunities of implementing green infrastructure practices. Green infrastructure is an approach to wet weather management that is cost-effective, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. Green infrastructure management approaches and technologies capture and reuse stormwater to maintain or restore natural hydrology.
The Camden County Soil Conservation District (CCSCD) completed a Regional Stormwater Management Plan for the Cooper River Watershed. This plan identified opportunities for the implementation of stormwater best management practices (BMPs) and management strategies to reduce peak flows from high frequency storms. One strategy discussed was to work with stakeholders to gain a better undesrtanding of the watershed and its river networks and for these stakeholders to take an active role in addressing impairments via small scale and grass-roots projects.
The Cooper River Stormwater Education and Implementation Project focused on building upon existing partnerships within the watershed to implement some of the BMP recommendations identified in the Cooper River Regional Stormwater Management Plan. The overall project goal was to demonstrate and evaluate how rain garden educational programs within the Cooper River Watershed will improve water quality and quantity in the Cooper River Watershed.