BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -  According to NJ Department of Environmental Protection data, more than a quarter of the Township of Berkeley Heights has impervious cover, so when it rains, stormwater simply runs into streams and can cause flooding. Stormwater also carries pollutants, degrading the quality of the streams. 

In acknowledging the need to reduce flooding, the Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission is partnering with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) Water Resources Program and the NJ Watershed Ambassador Program to enlist the help of residents.

“One proven way to decrease stormwater runoff is to build special gardens, called rain gardens,” says Richard Leister, Chair of the Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission. “The gardens are designed to capture rain water, but they can also enhance curb appeal.”

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A rain garden is a low-maintenance plot of perennials, designed as a saucer on level or slightly sloping ground. The typical rain garden captures water from an impervious surface and lets it seep into the ground rather than running into a stream or river. Once the garden is established, maintenance is relatively light and only involves weeding, mulching and thinning.

“We are seeking funding for this project to reimburse homeowners who install rain gardens,” Leister said. “We hope this funding encourages more homeowners to apply for the program.”

The Environmental Commission has invited experts from RCE to give a presentation on what a homeowner can do to reduce flooding. Residents are cordially invited to a meeting at 6:30 p.m. on  April 7 at the Berkeley Heights Public Library.

Register by March 31 by calling the NJ Watershed Ambassador 973-635-6629, or email wsa.wma6@MorrisParks.net.