Livingston Youth and Community Services (LYCS) program, Livingston Green Team, and Livingston Clean Communities joined forces with Rutgers State University on Sunday, April 29th to construct rain barrels at Monmouth Court Community Center. Dr. Amy Rowe, from Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station gave a powerpoint presentation on the benefits of rain barrels for watering lawns and gardens, mitigating stormwater runoff, and how to build a rain barrel for residential use. The workshops were attended by LYCS Leaders and family members who then constructed the rain barrels under the guidance of Melissa Kimmel and Renee Resky, both members of the Livingston Green Team.

The rain barrel workshops are part of a LYCS sponsored environmental initiative which is focused on water conservation. LYCS students painted rain barrels during the Grade 5 Leaders Club, Peer Leaders (Gr. 6-8), and Peer to Peer (Gr. 9-12) meetings. “This project not only helps to conserve water, but also involves students in a beneficial recycling project,” explained Susan Ridley, Township of Livingston Program Supervisor for Community Services. “Each of these rain barrels are made from high density polyethylene (HDPE) food grade plastics which have been previously used to store foods such as olives, cranberries, pickles etc… and are now used to benefit the environment by conserving water as well as beautifying the garden.”

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The Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin recently encouraged New Jersey residents to take steps to conserve water because the unusually dry winter and spring has resulted in severely stressed stream and shallow ground water supplies. “Overall our major water supplies, including reservoirs and deep aquifers, remain in good shape,” reported Commissioner. “But our goal is to begin moderating demand by asking residents to voluntarily conserve water before peak summer use begins.” Groundwater is important for replenishing streams, rivers and lakes.

“This project is very timely,” said Renee Resky. “Commissioner Martin is encouraging residents to use water wisely and efficiently, and what better way to do that but to capture water from a downspout into a rain barrel to use later for watering gardens and plants. And it saves money on the water bill!”

LYCS has a goal of creating 100 rain barrels as part of its Presidential Environmental Youth Awards application to increase youth and community involvement in environmental initiatives by harvesting rainwater.  So far 30 rain barrels have been completed. More workshops are planned in the summer and fall which will be open to the Livingston community. If you didn’t stop by the Citizens’ Institute Elective on May 3rd (7:30 pm @ Senior Community Center) which showcased Livingston’s Environmental programs, you can sign up for notification of future workshops, and to pick up information about rain barrels and rain gardens at the Family Day Festival during Youth Appreciation Week at The Oval (near the Adopt-a-Pet tent) on Saturday, May 26 (10:00 am – 3:00 pm).

LYCS is a community-based, after-school educational program that provides leadership, healthy life choices, and life skills to students Grades 1-12. LYCS also provides community services opportunities, family socials, expressive arts projects, and collaborates on community programs. Registration is now open for 2012 – 2013 school year. For more information about LYCS programs and activities go to www.livingstonlycs.org, email: lycs@livingston.org, or call 973-535-2646. LYCS is a program of the Township of Livingston: Senior, Youth and Leisure Services, and is funded in part by the Livingston Municipal Alliance Committee (LMAC).

For information on the Livingston Living Green Townwide Initiative please visit www.livingstonnj.org/greenteam.html. For information on water conservation and water supply status in all of New Jersey’s drought regions go to at www.njdrought.org or go to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection at www.state.nj.us/dep.