The Somerset County Regional Center Partnership, through a grant from the New Jersey Water Supply Authority, is encouraging residents of the Peters Brook Watershed to purchase and install rain barrels by offering rebates from $50 to $200.
The Peters Brook Watershed, which encompasses parts of the Regional Center communities of Bridgewater Township, Somerville and Raritan Boroughs, is a highly urbanized and integral natural resource in the Regional Center. There are approximately 6,000 homes in the watershed resulting in approximately 30% of the land being covered by pavement, rooftops, and other impervious surfaces. In older urban areas, rainwater runoff from these hard surfaces flows directly into streams, picking up pollutants along the way.
Rain barrels serve a multiple purpose, conserving water for household use, easing stream erosion by reducing the amount of water going to our streams and rivers during heavy storms, and reducing the pollutants accumulated from the impervious surfaces. Installing a rain barrel is one of the best ways residential homeowners can help to manage the effects of urban stormwater.
“This rebate pilot program provides a connection for residents not only to the environment, but to their local streams and their water supply,” says Ken Klipstein, Director of Watershed Protection Programs at the New Jersey Water Supply Authority. “Residents will know that their rain barrels are not only good for conserving water, but that they have a direct impact on reducing pollution and the volume of water that reaches the streams.”
“This pilot program, one of the first of its kind, is a unique opportunity for our residents to not only help the environment, but to save a few dollars while doing it,” commented Somerville Mayor Brian Gallagher. “It's a great way to do your small part and have a great impact collectively on the water quality of Peters Brook, one of Somerville's great resources.”
Last summer, the New Jersey Water Supply Authority and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Somerset County held four neighborhood based “Build-A-Rain-Barrel” workshops within the Peters Brook Watershed. The workshops generated significant interest in rain barrels and increased awareness of stormwater issues in the Regional Center communities. This rebate program, which stems from the success and feedback of those workshops, will serve as a pilot program in order to develop effective education and outreach for stormwater projects in the Peters Brook and other urban settings.
“Conservation and sustainability are key components of the Regional Center Strategic Master Plan,” noted Rose Evans, Chair of the Somerset County Regional Center Partnership. “Our ability to participate with the New Jersey Water Supply Authority with this valuable public service is an honor that we take very seriously. As a Board we are committed to the effort and will work toward distribution of all available funds.”
Residents should confirm that their residence is located within the Peters Brook watershed boundary (see map attached). Rain barrels must meet specific criteria, such as minimum capacity, overflow, and spigot location. The pilot program will run until July 2012, however, rebates will be awarded on a first come, first served basis, and funding is limited. Detailed information can be found on the Regional Center Partnership’s website at www.regionalcenterpartnership.org, by calling 908-685-0315 x234 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.