Improving Water Quality & Reducing Habitat Loss with Floating Wetland Islands

Floating Wetland Islands (FWI), also known as floating treatment wetlands, are an effective alternative to large, watershed-based, natural wetlands. Often described as self-sustaining, FWIs provide numerous ecological benefits. They assimilate and remove excess nutrients that could fuel algae growth; provide habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms; help mitigate wave and wind erosion impacts; provide an aesthetic element; and can be part of a holistic lake/pond management strategy. FWIs are also highly adaptable and can be sized, configured and planted to fit the needs of nearly any lakepond or reservoir.

Princeton Hydro Senior Scientist Katie Walston recently completed the Floating Island International (FII) Floating Wetland Master Seminar. The seminar provided participants with an in-depth look at the various technologies and products FII offers. Through hands-on examples, course participants learned how to utilize wetland islands for fisheries enhancement, stormwater management, shoreline preservation, wastewater treatment and more.

“The Master Seminar was truly valuable both personally and professionally,” said Katie. “I learned a tremendous amount and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It’s very fulfilling knowing that I can take the knowledge I’ve learned back to Princeton Hydro and make positive impacts for our clients.”

FII was launched by inventor and outdoorsman Bruce Kania who was driven by the desire to reverse the decline of wetland habitats by developing a new and natural stewardship tool that could clean water and, in the process, improve life for all living creatures. He found that the answer lies in Biomimicry: duplicating nature’s processes in a sustainable, efficient and powerful way to achieve impeccable environmental stewardship for the benefit of all life.

Bruce brought together a team of engineers and plant specialists and created BioHaven® floating islands. These islands biomimic natural floating islands to create a “concentrated” wetland effect. Independent laboratory tests show removal rates far in excess of previously published data: 20 times more nitrate, 10 times more phosphate and 11 times more ammonia, using unplanted islands. They are also extremely effective at reducing total suspended solids and dissolved organic carbon in waterways.

Due to population growth, industrialization and climate change, wetlands are at risk of rapidly declining in quantity and quality due. However, every floating wetland island launched by FII provides an effective strategy for mitigating and adapting to the impacts of over development and climate change.

The unique design of BioHaven® floating islands means that 250 square feet of island translates to an acre’s worth of wetland surface area. These versatile floating islands can be launched in either shallow or deep water, and can be securely anchored or tethered to ensure that they remain in a specific location. They are almost infinitely customizable, and can be configured in a variety of ways.

In addition to ongoing prototype development, FII offers licensing opportunities to businesses and production facilities worldwide. FII continues to research and develop collaborative pilot projects to quantify BioHaven® floating islands’ efficacy.

Many thanks to Bruce and Anne Kania for hosting the Floating Wetland Master Seminar and inspiring action through their knowledge, passion and ongoing endeavors.

 

Princeton Hydro Founder Invited to Speak at EPA’s Harmful Algal Blooms Workshop

Princeton Hydro Founder Dr. Steve Souza was an invited speaker at the USEPA Region 2 Freshwater Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and Public Drinking Water Systems workshop last week in Manhattan. The objective of the workshop was to share information about the monitoring and assessment of freshwater HABs and the efforts to minimize their effect on public drinking water and the recreational uses of lakes.

Steve’s presentation focused on the proactive management of HABs, providing useful tips for and real-world examples of how to address HABs before they manifest, and, if a HAB does manifest, how to prevent it from further exacerbating water quality and cyanotoxin problems.

The workshop was well attended with 80 people on site and 40 others participating via webinar link. Steve was joined by nine other invited speakers, most of whom were representing the USEPA, NYSDEC and NJDEP, who gave presentations on a variety of HABs related topics, including the optimization of water treatment operations to minimize cyanotoxin risks surveillance and assessment of HABs, and communicating HABs risks in recreational lakes and drinking water reservoirs.

If you’re interested in learning more about HABs, you can view a complete copy of Steve’s presentation, titled Proactive Management of Harmful Algae Blooms in Drinking Water and Recreational Waterbodies, by clicking the image below. Please contact us anytime to discuss how Princeton Hydro’s Invasive Weed and Algae Management Services can be of service to you.

The USEPA Region 2 serves New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight tribal nations. Get more info on key issues and initiatives in USEPA Region 2.

 

 

Princeton Hydro Dam Removal Work Featured at Brazilian Workshop

As Brazil is in the midst of a dam-building boom, scientists and engineers gathered at a workshop in Brazil to discuss, “Dam Removal & Optimizing Hydro Locations to Benefit Species Diversity in Brazil.”

Laura Wildman, P.E., Water Resources and Fisheries Engineer and Director of Princeton Hydro’s New England Regional Office, was invited to speak at the workshop. Her presentation focused on why we remove dams in the U.S. (the key drivers), how we analyze them for removal, and what we are learning through a wide diversity of completed case studies.

“It was fascinating to discuss a topic, such as the removal of dams, right as Brazil is focusing on building more hydro capacity,” said Laura. “Hopefully it is a sign that the hydro industry in Brazil, along with all the great Brazilian fisheries researchers, are quite forward thinking and are determined to maintain their country’s rich species diversity while also enhancing their energy options.”

The workshop, hosted by CEMIG and held at UFMG, involved many universities, including our workshop host Paulo Pompeu from UFLA, Dr. Paul Kemp from University of Southhampton, Dr. Jesse O’Hanley of Kent Business School, and many others.

The gathering inspired a lot of interesting dialogue around dam removal, optimizing locations for new hydro facilities, and how to best sustain connectivity and species diversity. Laura’s presentation entitled “Dam removal in the United States” along with the other conference presentations will be available on the CEMIG website soon or check back here on the Princeton Hydro blog for presentation links.

American Littoral Society and Princeton Hydro Receive “Project of the Year” Award

The American Littoral Society and Princeton Hydro accepted the “Project of the Year” Award at last night's The American Society of Civil Engineers Central New Jersey Branch Annual Dinner. The team received the award for their work on the Barnegat Bay Green Infrastructure Project. Photo from left to right: Tim Dillingham, American Littoral Society Executive Director; Helen Henderson American Littoral Society Ocean Planning Manager for the Mid-Atlantic region; Dr. Stephen J. Souza, Princeton Hydro Founder.

The American Littoral Society and Princeton Hydro accepted the “Project of the Year” Award at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Annual Dinner. The team received the award for their work on the Barnegat Bay Green Infrastructure Project.

”This was a terrific project conducted for a terrific client – the American Littoral Society,” said Princeton Hydro Founder Dr. Stephen Souza. “It also would not have been possible without a very supportive and engaged stakeholder group.”

The Barnegat Bay Project focused on reducing the amount of pollution entering the Bay’s waterways by retrofitting outdated stormwater management systems and implementing green infrastructure on previously developed sites.

“The project showcases the combined skill-sets of Princeton Hydro,” said Dr. Souza. “This was a truly collaborative effort involving the company’s aquatic ecologists, wetland ecologists, water resource engineers and landscape architect. We all worked closely to develop and implement green infrastructure solutions that measurably decrease pollutant loading to Barnegat Bay and correct localized flooding problems.”

Learn more about the award-winning project here: https://goo.gl/uQ3DfV. Big congratulations to the entire Littoral Society team for winning this prestigious award! And, many thanks to ASCE Central Jersey Branch for the recognition.

Barnegat Bay Green Infrastructure Project Named “Project of the Year”

Princeton Hydro is thrilled to announce that American Littoral Society’s Barnegat Bay Green Infrastructure Project has been named “Project of the Year” by The American Society of Civil Engineers Central Jersey Branch.

The award-winning project was a collaboration between the Littoral Society, Princeton Hydro and key partners that involved implementing a variety of green infrastructure stormwater management projects in order to decrease the volume of runoff and associated pollutants flowing into and damaging Barnegat Bay.

The green infrastructure projects were designed to treat stormwater at its source while delivering environmental, social and economic benefits to the Bay. Completed projects include:

  • Conversion of standard, grassed detention basins into naturalized bio-retention basins, as exemplified by the Laurel Commons Carnation Circle Basin, which now serves as a paradigm for the cost-effective retrofitting of aged, traditional detention basins
  • At Toms River High School North, the installation of tree boxes,
  • At the Toms River Board of Education offices, the replacement of conventional paving with permeable pavement,
  • At multiple sites, the construction of rain gardens,
  • At Toms River High School North, the construction/installation of stormwater management Manufactured Treatment Devices (MTDs)
  • At the Toms River Community Medical Center (RWJ Barnabas Health), the construction of a bio-retention/infiltration basin

The entire Princeton Hydro team extends our warmest congratulations to Helen Henderson and all of the folks at American Littoral Society for winning this prestigious award! Princeton Hydro is proud to partner with this incredible organization and is grateful for the work they do to protect our beautiful coastline and save the bay!

The Awards Dinner and celebration takes place on Tuesday, October 17th at the Forsgate Country Club. The “Project of the Year” nomination was originally submitted by Princeton Hydro founder Dr. Stephen Souza on behalf of the Littoral Society.

For a more detailed summary and photos of the award-winning project, click here.

Green Infrastructure Planting Projects

The Princeton Hydro team has been busy this summer installing over 1700 plants at three of the company’s green infrastructure stormwater management project sites.

First, team members finalized the planting of two rain gardens located at Clawson Park in East Amwell, NJ. They also installed plants in a renovated detention basin located at the West Amwell Municipal Building. Finally, together with members of the American Littoral Society team, the team finalized the planting of an expanded rain garden and a newly constructed bio-infiltration planter box at Toms River High School North, Toms River, NJ. All three projects are 319(h) funded projects.

Everyone dug-in, got their hands dirty and the payoff to all of this planting is less runoff and less pollutant loading to our streams and rivers!

Read more about Princeton Hydro’s green infrastructure projects here.

Celebrate “Lakes Appreciation Month” All Year

It’s officially the last day of #LakesAppreciation Month, but that certainly doesn’t mean our love for lakes is limited to one month out of the year. Here are a few ideas from North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) for how to appreciate your community lakes all year long:

  1. Appreciate them by enjoying them; plan outings with your family and friends
  2. Arrange a lake or watershed clean-up event; check out these tips for how to get started
  3. Help monitor your local waterbody; New Jersey residents can go here to learn about Community Water Monitoring volunteer opportunities
  4. Inspire others to #getoutside and enjoy; as you’re out and about appreciating your local lakes, remember to take photos and share on social media using these hashtags: #LakesAppreciation and #NALMS

Always remember to enjoy your local lakes responsibly. Here are a few tips to help you have fun in nature while having minimal environmental impact.

(Pictured above: Budd Lake in Mount Olive Township, Morris County, New Jersey)

The Return of the American Shad to the Musconetcong River

PHOTO/New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife biologist Pat Hamilton holds a shad near the Warren Glen Dam

After a 250+ year absence, American shad have returned to the Musconetcong River in Hunterdon and Warren counties. This milestone in the ecological recovery of the river is the result of the removal of dams on the lower Musconetcong several years ago, followed by the removal of the Hughesville Dam in Warren County last year.

Removing the dams opened nearly six miles of the Musconetcong to migratory fish, such as American shad, that spend much of their lives in the ocean but return to rivers and their tributaries to spawn. The shad’s return is a good sign of the overall ecological health and diversity of the river.

Princeton Hydro was proud to partner with the Musconetcong Watershed Association and so many other incredible organizations who came together on the Hughesville Dam Removal project. To date, Princeton Hydro has investigated, designed and permitted five dam removals on the Musconetcong.

The next Musconetcong dam targeted for removal is the 32-foot high Warren Glen Dam, less than a mile farther upstream. It is the largest dam in the river; by comparison, the Hughesville Dam was 15-feet tall.

Princeton Hydro President Geoff Goll, P.E. published this commentary piece titled, “The Return of the American Shad to the Musconetcong River:”

Update (June 15, 2017)NJDEP issued press release on the finding of American shad on the Musky. Bob Shin, NJDEP Commissioner, stated, “[t]he return of shad, a benchmark species indicative of the overall ecological health and diversity of a waterway, is an exciting milestone…. This achievement is the direct result of an ongoing partnership among state and federal agencies, nonprofit groups, and dam owners – all committed to making this beautiful waterway free-flowing again.

On June 7, 2017, Princeton Hydro celebrated along with the Musconetcong Watershed Association (and an excellent story of the MWA, human history of the river, and the efforts to preserve the history and ecology can be found here) and other project partners, the discovery of American shad on the Musconetcong River in NJ, over 250 years after they were blocked from this major tributary of the Delaware River – On September 8, 2016, then Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, held a press conference to celebrate the initial breach of the Hughesville Dam on the Musconetcong River (time lapse of removal is here). The press conference was held as the Department of the Interior via of the US Fish and Wildlife Service provided the funding to remove this obsolete structure through their Hurricane Sandy Recovery funding and the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration program. In addition to the Honorable Sally Jewell, NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, and US Army Corp of Engineers, Philadelphia District Commander Lt. Colonel Michael Bliss, were also on hand to speak about the importance of the Hughesville Dam removal and dam removal in general. To have such dignitaries at the highest levels of our Federal and State government speak at a project our firm designed was truly an honor and privilege. It was a great day to celebrate the next obsolete dam on the Musconetcong River to fall to the progress of river restoration. However, this would pale in comparison to the news we received on Wednesday, June 7, 2017, when the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife confirmed the presence of the American shad (Alosa sapidissima) above the Hughesville Dam!

Ms. Patricia Hamilton, Fisheries Biologist of NJ Fish And Wildlife, reported that they “spotted small schools of American Shad (at most 6 at a time) and captured 4 several hundred yards downstream of the Warren Glen Dam”, five miles from the confluence of the Delaware River. This is the first documentation of American shad on this river in over 250 years! So, what is the big deal you may ask.

The American shad is the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States’ salmon; it is actually a clupeid, a forage type fish closely related to herrings and sardines. Like herrings and sardines, they are a very oily fish, high in omega-3 fats, and low in contamination. It is also a fairly large clupeid, reaching three to eight pounds as adults. Like the salmon, American shad are anadromous, meaning they live the major part of their lives in the ocean and spawn up the coasts’ rivers. The American shad is not a spectacularly looking fish to say the least, and in fact, looks like a “generic” illustration of a fish, unlike the sleek and sexy salmon. It doesn’t even jump. However, this fish is a long distance and endurance swimmer, who’s migration from its hatching in rivers of the East Coast to its primary habitat in the Atlantic Ocean up in the Gulf of Maine, makes it one of the Earth’s great travelers. It can swim nearly 20,000 kilometers in its first five years of life and can dive to depths of up to 375 meters. And like all of its clupeid kindred, it is both a key prey species for many large fish and cetaceans in the Atlantic’s pelagic zone (open ocean) and an important commercial fish. But it is the existence of over-fishing, pollution and dams that had brought this species to its knees in many of the major eastern US rivers.

While the Delaware River shad and herring species have rebounded somewhat from low populations in the mid-1900s with the advent of the US Clean Water Act, they continue to struggle to regain their numbers, and in fact, there is now a moratorium on catching river herring in the Delaware River, and NJ has a moratorium on the harvesting of shad and herring on its tributaries to the Delaware River and Atlantic Ocean. As far as tributary access is concerned, the largest tributaries to the Delaware, the Schuylkill and Lehigh Rivers, are still blocked by dams to their mouths with very little efficiency of fish ladders provided; with their dams having very little success in gaining support for the removal of their blockages. So, any gains in additional spawning habitat for such anadromous species is viewed as a significant victory. The opening of the Musconetcong River to migrating fish will be a large contributor to the rebound of American shad, and other river herring species.

As one of the original 13 colonies, NJ was an integral partner in the start of the United States and early industrial revolution. It has been documented through our research during the dam removal regulatory permit application process on this waterway that the Musconetcong River has been dammed just about all the way to its confluence with the Delaware River since the mid-1700s, and likely much earlier. So, before there was anyone who understood the importance of unimpeded rivers for fish migration, this particular route was cut-off in its entirety, and then remained so for well over 250 years. So, it is understandable that there was no reason to assume that anadromous fish, such as shad, would resume the use of the river in a short period of time; however, there existed the right habitat for them, should they be afforded access…and the hope of the partners working on this river. There were doubters, to be sure, but “lo and behold”, we now know these mighty fish took advantage of an opening almost immediately.

Now, I am not stating that American shad immediately realized that the Hughesville Dam was gone and took a B-line from the Delaware River to the highest unimpeded location. First, other dams downstream of the Hughesville Dam had been removed over the past several years. These dams included the Finesville Dam (for an excellent video of the story of this dam removal, check out this video by the US Fish and Wildlife Service), removed in 2011 and the Reigelsville Dam remnants (there were two additional remnants found when the first foundation was removed) soon after the Finesville Dam was removed. So, it is likely that American Shad had started moving up the river to the base of the Hughesville Dam between 2011 and 2016. Still the response by American shad is nothing short of spectacular. For the over 250 years this species has not been able to use this river, at all, and now, within a span less than six years of dam removal activities, this fish is raring to comeback and, hopefully, spawn and increase their numbers.

And the efforts are not nearly complete for the Musconetcong River. The finding of the American shad five miles upstream from the Delaware River shows that this river can and, now, does support this fish. This generic looking fish, yet awesome product of evolution should only fuel the fire of continued restoration efforts, proof-positive that the labor and funds spent here, in this river, gets results. Such funds and labor (an staggering amount of time, blood, sweat, and tears) are required in order to get the river restoration work done. These projects have received the majority of their backing from the federal government, through grant programs, natural resource damage funds, and direct Congressional authorized funds. Without support from Washington, D.C.,, and Trenton, none of this work would be possible. And to get these funds, required work by the many team partners to prepare applications, meet with federal agencies, and educate the public through open and transparent meetings and communication. This was an impressive effort by the residents of this watershed, professionals who provided their expertise, and the state and federal employees who have dedicated their lives to this kind of work.

The Musconetcong River, with its recovering ecosystem, and its human and non-human inhabitants continue to amaze me in how we should all strive to strike balance between man and nature; and all this is being accomplished in the most densely populated state in the nation.

The finding of American shad gives me reason to cheer, and is why I do what I do. This is it, the return of a species that at one time we had no assurance would return, has returned. This is hope for us, after all.

Read more about Princeton Hydro’s river restoration and dam/barrier services on our website. Please contact us anytime if you have a project you’d like to discuss.

Princeton Hydro Photo Contest

To celebrate Earth Week 2017, Princeton Hydro founder Steve Souza launched an internal company photo contest for which he asked everyone to submit their best photos of nature.

A panel of judges reviewed the photos through a blind judging process, narrowed it down to the top five, and ultimately chose a winner. Without further ado, we’d like to congratulate Michael Rehman for scoring the 1st place win! His “Barred Owl” photo won him a $100 gift certificate and lots of bragging rights.

So many great photos were submitted – we just had to share them! The photo album below includes Michael’s winning pic, the runners up, and a selection of photos submitted by each of the contest participants. Thanks to everyone who had a hand in the photo contest! Keep getting out there and enjoying nature!

Winning Photo "Barred Owl" by Michael Rehman

Winning Photo
“Barred Owl” by Michael Rehman

Read about Princeton Hydro’s 2016 Earth Day Photo Contest here.

Princeton Hydro Projects Recap

In Case You Missed It:
A Recap of Projects Recently Completed by the
Princeton Hydro Aquatic & Engineering Departments

Members of our New England Regional Office team conducted a detailed survey at a culvert prioritized for replacement in the Town of Stony Point, New York. This structure was one of several identified as important to both habitat and flood risk during the development of Stony Point’s Road-Stream Crossing Management Plan. The Princeton Hydro team will use the collected data to develop a conceptual design and implementation strategy for a replacement structure using the Stream Simulation design method developed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Special thanks to Paul Woodworth, Fluvial Geomorphologist, and Sophie Breitbart, Staff Scientist, for their excellent work on this project!

The Truxor was put to work dredging a pond in Union Gap, New Jersey. The Truxor is an extremely versatile amphibious machine that can perform a variety of functions, including weed cutting and harvesting, mat algae and debris removal, silt pumping, channel excavation, oil spill clean-up, and much more!

We recently designed and installed a solar-powered aeration system in Hillsborough, New Jersey. Solar pond and lake aeration systems are cost-effective, eco-friendly, sustainable, and they eliminate the need to run direct-wired electrical lines to remote locations. Princeton Hydro designs, installs and maintains various aeration and sub-surface destratification systems for public drinking water purveyors, municipal and county parks, private and public golf courses, and large lake communities throughout the East Coast.

Here’s a look at a project in Elizabeth, New Jersey to clear the area of phragmites. Phragmites is an invasive weed that forms dense thickets of vegetation unsuitable for native fauna. It also outcompetes native vegetation and lowers local plant diversity. Previously, the entire site was filled with phragmites. Late last year, we utilized the Marsh Master to remove the invasive weed. Now that its almost Spring, we’re back at the site using the Marsh Master to mill and cultivate the ground in preparation for re-planting native plant species. A big shout out to our Aquatic Specialist John Eberly for his great work on this project!

In this photo, our intern and engineering student currently studying at Stevens Institute of Technology, Veronica Moditz, is gathering data on the Hughesville Dam removal. She’s using GPS to check the elevation of the constructed riffle on the beautiful Musconetcong River.

Members of the Princeton Hydro team worked in South New Jersey doing annual maintenance on nine stormwater infiltration basins that were also designed and constructed by Princeton Hydro. The maintenance work involves clearing vegetation from the basins to ensure the organic matter does not impede infiltration of the water as per the basins’ design. This project also involves the management of invasive plant species within the basins. Stormwater infiltration basins provide numerous benefits including preventing flooding and downstream erosion, improving water quality in adjacent waterbodies, reducing the volume of stormwater runoff, and increasing ground water recharge.

We recently completed a project in New Jersey for which we used our Truxor machine to dredge a stormwater retention basin. The basin had accumulated large amounts of sediment which were impeding the flow of water into the basin. We equipped the Truxor with its standard bucket attachment and a hydraulic dredge pump. The dredging operation was a success and now the basin is clear and functioning properly.

Stay Tuned for More Updates!