LINDEN, NJ — Phillips 66 Bayway Refinery, Rutgers University and the city of Linden have teamed up to install a rain garden to help mitigate flooding in Linden’s Tremley Point area.
The Linden refinery has donated $60,000 to create the rain garden, which is designed to act as a natural water filter, restoring wetlands and improving the local ecosystem.
The goal of the project, which was started in April, is to address flooding in the area of Tremley Point, where approximately 275 homes are located at the headwaters of Marshes Creek. During rainfall events and even normal high tides, residents in the area have reported repeated flooding.
The project addresses two sources of flooding: rainwater runoff and regular ocean tides and storm surge.
The rain garden is projected to reduce the community’s vulnerability to coastal storms, rising sea levels and flooding by restoring the wetlands area along Marshes Creek and allowing it to function as a coastal storm surge barrier. New flow control devices were being installed on existing and new culverts to restore the natural hydrological balance within Marshes Creek, thereby allowing the water elevation in the wetlands to return to normal levels, according to a press release from Rutgers University.
The rain garden project is being conducted along with an ongoing larger flood mitigation and ecosystem restoration, which is being sponsored by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Faculty members and students from the Rutgers School of Engineering worked with Linden’s city engineer and a local consultant to design and construct the garden.
The 50-foot by 40-foot ground depression will intercept and slow down storm water runoff from paved and other impervious areas while filtering out dog-produced pathogens from a nearby dog park. Native plants planted by local volunteers will help the process and also provide food and habitat for birds, butterflies and other pollinators. Linden will maintain the garden with guidance from the Rutgers team.
The Rutgers team first traveled to the area a few years ago during a post-Hurricane Sandy flood study, sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, to identify the causes of the flooding, which the team found was primarily induced by rainfall and water surges from the nearby Arthur Kill, via the Rahway River.
During Hurricane Sandy, storm surge caused extensive flooding due to a lack of surge protection at this location. Because the Marshes Creek wetlands are in a degraded state, they were not able to provide any protection.
Rutgers University student Cody Obropta, who was the project manager for the student design team, told LocalSource that the team chose to locate the project near the dog park for several reasons.
“We picked the dog park because we wanted it to look nicer and to serve in the process of treating the water,” Obropta said in a recent phone interview. “The rain garden project does both.”
According to Obropta, the design work for the project started in February. The rain garden was completed last week.
The project dovetails with the much larger $2.7 million ongoing flood mitigation and ecosystem restoration project for Marshes Creek being funded by the NFWF. That project started at the end of 2014 and is expected to be completed by end of this year.
Qizhong “George” Guo, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Rutgers School of Engineering and a flood expert, told LocalSource that the rain garden will be an ongoing project.
“Maintenance and initial watering to ensure plants’ survival and for soils to stabilize will last for a while, maybe (until) one full year from now,” Guo said in a May 4 email.
Guo also explained how the raid garden filters out dog waste pathogens.
“Dog waste is supposed to be picked up by owners,” Guo said. “However, wastes and feces of dogs will be in contact with the ground surface at least temporarily and some of the dog wastes and feces may be left behind.
“The rain garden will help hold up and filter out the dog waste washed off and carried by rainfall-produced runoff instead of being discharged directly towards a downstream receiving water, such as streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs.”
According to Guo, dog feces may contain parvovirus, whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, threadworms, campylobacteriosis, giardia and coccidia. If left unattended, these parasites will contaminate the water and soil and can cause infection in both pets and humans, especially children.
The microscopic hookworm larvae can also be passed to another pet or person directly through the skin or by accidental ingestion, as can other bacteria.
Linden Mayor Derek Armstead lauded the project.
“Once again, Phillips 66 has demonstrated their willingness to collaborate in the betterment of our city,” Armstead told LocalSource in a May 4 email. “They have consistently been good corporate neighbors and continue to do whatever is necessary for our community.”