2013-01-24 / Front Page

Milltown council receives update on watershed plans for the area

Open house on Jan. 28 will feature display on solutions offered by Rutgers students
Staff Writer

MILLTOWN — For the second time in as many months, Rutgers University students provided municipal officials with solutions to ongoing flooding problems in the borough.

Weeks after hearing presentations by students from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Jean Marie Hartman, of the university’s Landscape Architecture Department, discussed her students’ work regarding the Lawrence Brook watershed.

Hartman spoke at the Jan. 14 council meeting and discussed how her 29 students looked at the entire Lawrence Brook area and not just the Milltown portion.

“We looked at storm-water management practices that could be applied within Lawrence Brook,” she said. “The goal of the studio project was to sharpen my students’ skills with [geographic information systems] and make them think about a regional problem such as storm-water management where design solutions could be handled at very fine scale, such as at the residential lot size, and at larger, engineering scales.”

Hartman said the students spent a third of a semester familiarizing themselves with the brook’s tributaries, stream bank conditions and the natural history of the watershed.

The remaining time was dedicated to learning about watershed management as well as a series of “engineering and nonstructural methodologies” to reduce the amount of water that enters the stream system or improve the quality of the water itself.

“Each of the [projects is] investigated two or three times — things such as rain gardens you hear about as something people may want to do in a small-scale area where they would like to manage water a little better around their property,” Hartman said. “Other things such as detention and retention basins are being re-envisioned with new kinds of soft engineering methods.

“We found out that there were many ways that the communities within the watershed could substantially decrease the amount of water going into the stream system, thereby cutting down on flood problems simply by using some of these engineering, nonengineering solutions,” she added.

Hartman encouraged borough officials and members of the public to view the students’ work firsthand at the Milltown Public Library, where the work is on display.

There will also be an open house, during which Hartman and her students will be on hand to talk about the projects and answer questions on Monday, Jan. 28 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Mayor Eric Steeber said he had seen the work displayed previously at the Middlesex County planning department building and liked what he saw.

“I would certainly ask the council members to make it a point of getting there and [also] any member of the public who has an interest in the flooding problems in town, or just to go learn quite a bit,” Steeber said. “I attended the display and spent over two hours and I learned a tremendous amount and the students did a fantastic job on their projects.”

Alan Godber — president of the Lawrence Brook Watershed Partnership — agreed.

“I just want to thank Dr. Hartman for coming this evening,” Godber said, noting he had similarly visited the county planning building and spoke to a dozen students.

‘They had some very smart ideas. Some of the ideas were really thought through in great detail,” he said. “Others were just conceptual at this point. I think there’s a lot of work, a lot of benefit we can get by looking at those.”

Contact James McEvoy at jmcevoy@gmnews.com.

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