Employee Spotlight: Helping Communities Around the World Access Water Resources

We’re Proud to Put the Spotlight on Natalie Rodrigues, Staff Engineer And Engineers Without Borders Co-President

As a staff engineer specializing in water resources, Natalie Rodrigues, EIT, CPESC-IT works on a wide range of projects from stormwater management to ecosystem restoration to dam safety. Outside of the office, Natalie is an active volunteer with Engineers Without Borders (EWB), a nonprofit organization that works to build a better world through engineering projects that aid communities in meeting their basic needs.

EWB volunteers work with communities in the U.S. and throughout the world to find appropriate solutions for their infrastructure needs, including clean water supply; sanitation; sustainable energy; structures like bridges and buildings; and various agriculture essentials from irrigation systems to harvest processing.  Natalie began volunteering for the organization six years ago while attending college at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Resources Engineering with a focus in water resources.

Natalie and Lola, a student from the elementary school in Guatemala where Natalie assisted on an EWB project to install a latrine system

Her first big volunteer project, which was done in collaboration with EWB’s Syracuse Professionals Chapter, was designing and building a system of composting latrines for an elementary school in the small town of Las Majadas, Guatemala. Natalie provided assistance on several aspects of the project, including working on a Health and Safety Plan. The completion of this project helped to prevent the spread of disease, as well as treat waste without the need for a constant water supply/sewer system. The long-lasting design also increases the health practices and hygiene of the community, creating a safer place for education.

Natalie also served as secretary of the university’s EWB chapter for two years, then became the Regional Administrator for the Northeast Regional Committee, and is now starting her third year as a Co-President of the region.

In her current role with the regional committee, Natalie helps to provide resources for members and facilitates communication between EWB Headquarters and individual chapters. She assists with various mini-conferences and workshops throughout the region and provides opportunities for members to obtain Professional Development Hours and certifications. She is also a part of the EWB’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and the Council of Regional Presidents.

Natalie stands with her 2018 Northeast Regional Committee members at the 2018 National Conference

We’re so proud to have Natalie on our team and truly value the work she does inside and outside the office.

Volunteers Pitch In at New Jersey’s Thompson Park

A volunteer effort, lead by the Middlesex County, New Jersey Parks and Recreation Department and the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, recently took place at Thompson Park.

Despite the rainy weather, 78 volunteers and members of the Youth Conservation Corps removed litter from the shoreline of Manalapan Lake, repaired fencing, made improvements to the park’s walking trails, weeded and mulched the park’s rain garden and native plant garden, and installed new plants in the rain garden.

The park’s rain garden was originally designed by Princeton Hydro Senior Water Resource Engineer Dr. Clay Emerson, PE, CFM. Rain gardens are cost effective, attractive and sustainable means to minimize stormwater runoff. They also help to reduce erosion, promote groundwater recharge, minimize flooding and remove pollutants from runoff.

By definition, a rain garden is a shallow depression that is planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses, and positioned near a runoff source to capture rainwater. Planting native plants also helps to attract pollinators and birds and naturally reduces mosquitos by removing standing water thus reducing mosquito breeding areas.

Rain gardens temporarily store rainwater and runoff, and filter the water of hydrocarbons, oil, heavy metals, phosphorous, fertilizers and other pollutants that would normally find their way to the sewer and even our rivers and waterways.

On the day of the volunteer event, Central New Jersey received 0.44 inches of rain.  “We got to see the rain garden in action, which was really exciting,” said Princeton Hydro Senior Project Manager Kelly Klein, who volunteered at the event.

Volunteers from the following organizations participated:

  • Edison Metro Lions Club
  • Hioki USA Corporation
  • Girl Scout Troop 70306
  • East Brunswick Youth Council
  • Monroe Middle School
  • South Plainfield High School
  • Rutgers University
  • Master Gardeners of Middlesex County
  • Foresters Financial
  • Princeton Hydro

The Middlesex County Parks and Recreation Department’s next public volunteer event is tomorrow (June 2) in Davidson’s Mill Pond Park.

The Princeton Hydro team has designed and constructed countless stormwater management systems, including rain gardens in locations throughout the Eastern U.S. Click here for more information about our stormwater management services.

Celebrating Arbor Day with Friends of Exton Park

The Princeton Hydro Arbor Day planting team. Photo by George Tallman

Arbor Day dates back to the 1870’s in Nebraska, when journalist Julius Sterling Morton realized the ecological importance of trees, and proposed that all Nebraskans celebrate by having a day of planting. On April 10, 1872, the first Arbor Day was born. This tradition continued to spread from state-to-state, and after several decades, became a nationwide trend. Almost a century later, President Richard Nixon moved to officially recognize the holiday in 1970. Today, the tradition has spread worldwide, and has played a key role in environmental awareness.

To celebrate Arbor Day 2018, we teamed up with Friends of Exton Park. First, we joined their weekly morning bird walk at Exton Park to look out for spring migrants.  The group of about 25 people spotted some great birds including a Green-winged Teal, Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Virginia Rail,  Horned Lark, Yellow Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Carolina Chickadee.  The highlight of the trip was the American Bittern, who was perfectly camouflaged along the pond’s edge.

“American Bittern” by Dana Patterson

After the two-hour bird walk, we got into the Arbor Day spirit and planted 18 native trees and shrubs in Exton Park. Lead by our Landscape Architect Cory Speroff and Senior Limnologist Mike Hartshorne, the team identified the the perfect location for each plant, mostly along the main boardwalk trail leading into the heart of the park.

Overall, everyone had a great time enjoying the beautiful weather and celebrating Arbor Day.  At Princeton Hydro, we always work with our partners and clients to design sustainable landscapes with native plants that will thrive in local ecosystems.  At project sites, our goal is to create thriving habitat for wildlife and restore our natural landscape.  We were proud to sponsor these plantings for the Friends of Exton Park and thank their volunteers for organizing this event.

Enjoy the more photos from our event below. Special shout out to George Tallman of Friends of Exton Park for sharing some of his photos with us too.

 

 

 

 

 

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)