PATERSON, NJ - The sole purpose of a catch basin is to collect stormwater and transport it to local underground waterways.

“Everyone has a basin on their block,” stated Chrystal Cleaves, Paterson Green Team member. “It is the drainage on the corner. When it rains and floods, all the loose trash ends up in the basin. So, if we all get out and clean those basins, it will help the water stream flow.”

With support from the Sewage-Free Streets and Rivers campaign, the Paterson Green Team and the Great Swamp Watershed Association (GSWA) launched the Paterson’s Adopt A Catch Basin program. Inspired by Newark’s Adopt A Catch Basin program, GSWA and the Paterson Green Team worked together to develop a program that was unique to Paterson.

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The August 2019 rollout kicked off with a community barbeque coordinated by Councilwoman Ruby Cotton and the Bronze Heat, an organization within the Paterson Fire Department that counts many of its African American firefighters as members, at Barbour Park. At the event, residents picked up Adopt a Catch Basin kits and learned about combined sewer overflow issues in Paterson, and the need for a Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) to reduce contaminate that flows into the streets and rivers.

Since August, 40 Adopt A Catch Basin kits were delivered to community members in most of the city's six wards. These kits were equipped with instructions, a tracking sheet, gloves, and trash bags. The organizing groups have received positive feedback.

Councilwoman Ruby Cotton shared how she is seeing a difference in her neighborhood. After she and her husband decided to adopt a basin, her husband expanded his reach. He now oversees 10 basins near their home. Councilwoman Cotton is confident that this initiative has helped reduce basin flooding in her immediate neighborhood.

The Paterson Green Team leader, Martha Arencibia, was indispensable in ensuring a successful roll out of the Adopt A Catch Basin Program, encouraging the community to get involved. She converted flyers from English to Spanish and then dispersed them throughout the community. Ms. Arencibia also assisted by translating presentations at various meetings.

Educational meetings were held at Paterson City Hall and in community settings including the Freedom Village Senior Center, the Great Falls Youth Center, and the Boys and Girls Club of Paterson. At these evening meetings the community shared flooding experiences and residents learned about the impact of combined sewer overflows and the alternatives Paterson is considering. Residents gained a better understanding of how best they can get involved and have a voice in the process. The Paterson Green Team and GSWA look forward to increasing the number of adopted catch basins to continue to reduce flooding in the City of Paterson.

To learn more about the Paterson Green Team or to get involved, visit their Facebook page.

Reprinted with permission from the Great Swamp Watershed Association's "Across the Watershed" blog


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