The Ocean County Soil Conservation District is excited to announce our partnership with South Jersey Resource Conservation and Development Council (SJRC&D), Lakewood Township Department of Public Works, and the Camden County Soil Conservation District on an awarded grant called the Lakewood Township Stormwater Basin Retrofit Project. The grant is funded by a Federal 319(h) Water Quality Restoration grant awarded by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection to the SJRC&D.
The 4-year grant focuses on retrofitting stormwater basins within the North and South Branch of the Metedeconk River watershed, a sub-watershed to the Barnegat Bay watershed. The restoration of Metedeconk River watershed is of critical importance. The Metedeconk River provides over 100,000 residents with a source of clean water for drinking and personal use.
The primary goals of the grant are to reduce non-point source pollutant loading, and improve water quality and wildlife habitat by retrofitting stormwater basins. It is anticipated that up to 12 stormwater basins in Lakewood Township will be retrofitted, each with an individual retrofit design that could include revegetation of the basin with native grasses and wildflowers, reforestation of the basin, structural modification, or other methods that would accomplish an efficient and cost-effective retrofit. Once renovated, the basins will be able to treat and filter target pollutants from stormwater runoff and recharge groundwater more effectively, therefore, decreasing the amount of pollutants and volume of stormwater discharged to receiving streams.
The first task of the project is narrowing down the 181 stormwater basins located in Lakewood Township and ranking them for retrofit potential. A preliminary GIS analysis focusing on the proximity of basins to wetlands or waterbodies was completed. Stormwater from these basins have a greater impact on receiving waterbodies. The analysis discovered that 10 publicly maintained basins were within 250 feet of areas designated as wetlands and 21 privately maintained basins were within 100 feet of a waterbody.
In January, 2021, field inspection and analysis was undertaken to further determine retrofit potential for the basins. OCSCD staff, Ramon Mejia and Luis Almeyda, teamed with Craig McGee, District Manager at Camden County Soil Conservation District, and Eileen Miller, Team Habitat Coordinator for South Jersey Resource Conservation & Development Council, evaluated 5 stormwater basins for retrofit potential. Stormwater basin ranking was based on a list of characteristics, including the basin’s proximity to waterways or wetlands, soil conditions, type and condition of basin, as well as construction costs, feasibility and potential public acceptance.
Selected stormwater basins will have individual retrofit designs targeted to improve both hydrological and ecological functions in an area highly impacted by development. It is anticipated that these retrofits will improve the quality and reduce the quantity of discharged stormwater to receiving waterbodies. In addition, wildlife habitat will be created or improved by revegetating basins with native grasses and wildflowers.
In May, partners completed their first seeding operation at the FirstEnergy Park basin, home of the Lakewood Blue Claws. Native grasses were drilled into the basin using South Jersey Resource Conservation & Development Council’s newly purchased no-till Kasco Versa-Drill. The unique design of the Kasco Versa-Drill makes it durable enough for use in no-till conditions on the most uneven terrain and offers exact placement of seed, ensuring direct contact with the soil and improved germination results. The Kasco Versa drill is able to create an opening in the soil, deposit the seed, and close the opening while completing a single pass. The use of no-till drills for basin retrofit projects promotes maximum soil conservation by limiting water and wind exposure reducing potential for soil erosion.
The seed box of the Versa-Drill is also compatible with the “fluffy” seeds of native grasses proposed within the retrofit design. Species include Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), Virginia Wild Rye (Elymus virginicus), Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), and Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans). These species are fast growing and considered superb for erosion control and stabilization. Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens) was added to the seed mix to provide fall color, nectar for migrating Monarchs and other butterflies and pollinators, as well as seed for songbirds, including Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch and sparrows. The seed mix was supplied by Pinelands Nursery.