No Water No Life ®

3rd Annual Raritan River Initiative Conference
June 16, 2011, Rutgers University

A Note from NWNL Director
Albeit the smallest of the six NWNL case-study watersheds, New Jersey’s Raritan River Basin (8721 sq mi) is the largest drainage in the US’s most densely populated state. It is thus a classic urban watershed, containing over 20 Superfund Sites, 130 other contaminated areas, a major industrial/ shipping corridor (aka "The Chemical Belt") and many highways crisscrossing the watershed. In this watershed it’s clear that a healthy environment equals a healthy economy.

The Raritan is also my watershed. As a child, I played and fished in its upstream tributaries. As an adult, I’ve photographed its beauty and its blemishes in all seasons from source to sea. Upstream, there is severe deforestation by deer populations and nonpoint pollution. Downstream, there is intense industrial pollution, heavy storm runoff and urban flooding due to climate change and an untenable amount of impervious surfaces.

Since 2007, NWNL has watched Rutgers University spearhead of a coordinated upstream-downstream vision among its stewardship agencies. In June, the 3rd Annual Raritan River Initiative Conference, opened with a screening of our NWNL Raritan film, and for the rest of the day the focus was on water quality as a sine qua non to a healthy economy! That linkage is essential to the health of the residents, the economy and the environment!

                              -Alison M. Jones

Main Focus of Conference:
Answers to problems in the Raritan River Basin depend on the intertwining of environmental and economic awareness.

Initiatives Focused on at the Conference

Making the Raritan River Basin a magnet for future growth
Landowner education
Contaminant remediation

        Monitoring of Superfund sites at times of heavy flooding
        Non-point pollution management
        Funding CSO (Combined Sewer Overflow) correction
        Reducing pesticides; promoting organic foods
Land management
        Installing rain gardens, rain barrels, green roofs, cisterns
        Building bio-swales, porous surfaces
        Promotion of recreational usage and community gardens
        Restoring functioning wetlands, lakeshores and vernal habitats
        Tree planting and native grass restoration
        Creating storm storage systems and constructed wetlands
        Dam removal
Habitat management
        Stream corridor ordinances and buffer zones
        Oyster restoration in Hudson-Raritan Estuary
        Interpretive signs and maps to create awareness
        Wetland and biodiversity banking
        Removal of invasive species and monocultures
        Plant assessment, regeneration and stewardship
        Improving gene flow via plant-animal interactions

Great Conference Quotes
The Raritan River supported our growth, but our growth did not support the Raritan River.
       -- James Cahill, Mayor of New Brunswick

We now need to create economic values in the RRB that address its ecology. Wealth-creating economic engines need attractive ecologies and won’t accept inferior environmental settings.
       --James Hughes, Dean of Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers Univ.

Things will never return to their original states. Thus we should be talking about rehabilitation, not restoration.
       -- Beth Ravit, PhD, Environmental Science Dept, Rutgers

How much is a deer problem?? Everything is a deer problem!   -- Leslie Sauer, Plant Stewardship Index

There can be no backsliding when benefits of 30-40 years of restoration are just kicking in! If the EPA becomes the scapegoat of a bad economy, this will boomerang with a vengeance because a healthy environment is the primary value.      -- Michael Catania, Conservation Resources, Inc.

Raritan Sites to be visited by NWNL.
After listening to the Raritan Conference speakers, NWNL will add visits to the following sites in its ongoing documentation of threats and solutions to a Sustainable Raritan.

NWNL | 330 E 79th St, New York, NY 10075 | | 212-861-6961 |