Year in Review: Top 10 Successes of 2020

Princeton Hydro has grown from a small, four-person firm operating out of a living room to a 60+ person business with six office locations in the Northeast and a satellite office in Colorado. Over the last two decades, we’ve restored many miles of rivers, improved water quality in hundreds of ponds and lakes, and enhanced thousands of acres of ecosystems in the Northeast.

This year, we are feeling extra grateful for those who have supported our business and helped us further our mission during these difficult times. As we reflect on 2020 and set our sights on 2021, we have many successes to celebrate.  Here’s a look at our top 10 successes of the year:

 

1. RESTORED FISH PASSAGE ON SIX WATERWAYS

Our team installed one fish ladder and oversaw the removal of five dams in four states. In New York, in partnership with Riverkeeper, Princeton Hydro oversaw the removal of two dams on tributaries to the Hudson River: Strooks Felt Dam on the Quassaick Creek in Newburgh and Barrier #1 on Furnace Brook in Cortlandt. The dams were the first barriers for fish movement upstream from the Hudson River. In Connecticut, the Slocomb Dam along Roaring Brook in South Glastonbury was removed, restoring American eel and trout passage. In Massachusetts, the Horseshoe Mill Pond Dam in Wareham was removed, opening over 3 miles of fish habitat on the Weweantic River, Buzzards Bay’s largest freshwater river. Here, migratory fish can now swim unimpeded from Buzzards Bay to lay their eggs in fresh water upstream for the first time in 200 years. In New Jersey, we led the removal of Warren Hills Dam in Washington, NJ and partnered with the American Littoral Society to install a fish ladder at the Old Mill Pond Dam in Spring Lake Heights, NJ, which allows migratory fish to scale the dam and access spawning grounds that had been blocked-off for over 100 years.

 


 2. LED THE LARGEST APPLICATION OF PHOSLOCK IN THE NORTHEAST ON NEW JERSEY’S LARGEST LAKE

We implemented a variety of measures that helped Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey’s largest lake, mitigate harmful algal blooms (HABs). We applied a clay-based nutrient inactivating technology called Phoslock, which was the largest Phoslock treatment to occur in the Northeastern US. This treatment along with HAB prevention measures like the installation of biochar bags, nanobubble aeration systems, and floating wetland islands proved successful in mitigating HABs and improving overall water quality in 2020. And to top it all off, The Washington Post was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for its explanatory reporting on a novel climate change story featuring Lake Hopatcong and our lake management work.

 


3.  DESIGNED AND CONSTRUCTED WETLAND AND SHORELINE RESTORATION PROJECTS

We completed a shoreline restoration project at The Dunes at Shoal Harbor, a coastal residential community along the Jersey Shore that was severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy. In Linden’s Tremley Point neighborhood – another New Jersey community ravaged by Hurricane Sandy – we completed a green infrastructure and floodplain restoration project, the first restoration project to ever be implemented on NJDEP Blue Acres-acquired property. We transformed a densely developed, flood-prone, former industrial site in Bloomfield into a thriving public park with 4.2 acres of wetlands. Each of these three projects helped to restore valuable ecological functions and increase storm resiliency.

 


4. LAUNCHED A COMMUNITY SCIENCE MONITORING PROJECT FOR THE SCHUYLKILL RIVER

On World Habitat Day, the nonprofit, Schuylkill River Greenways, in partnership with Berks Nature, Bartram’s Garden, The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Stroud Water Research Center, and Princeton Hydro, kicked-off a Water Quality Monitoring Project for the Schuylkill River. This project aims to document the current ecological health of the river and engage a diverse set of river users and residents. As part of the campaign, the team is recruiting “Community Scientists” to conduct Visual Monitoring Assessments. Additionally, the stakeholder team is implementing water quality sampling and monitoring throughout 2021 at locations along the main stem of the Schuylkill River.

 


5. WELCOMED EIGHT NEW FULL-TIME TEAM MEMBERS

This year, we added eight new full-time staff members and one intern with expertise and qualifications in a variety of fields, all of whom have a passion for water resource management and environmental stewardship. In March, we were thrilled to welcome Dr. Laura Craig to our team as the new Director of Natural Resources. She is an Aquatic Ecologist who has overseen 25 dam removals, co-founded the NJ Dam Removal Partnership, and has 10+ years of experience in river conservation and climate adaptation. Go here to learn about the career opportunities currently available with us.

 


6. COMPLETED A MAJOR ECOLOGICAL STUDY OF THE HUDSON RIVER

Photo from USACE

The USACE Commanding General and 55th U.S. Army Chief of Engineers signed the Hudson River Habitat Restoration Ecosystem Restoration study, designating it as complete and making it eligible for congressional authorization. Princeton Hydro led the Integrated Feasibility Study and Environmental Assessment, which recommends three ecosystem restoration projects at sites along the river including Henry Hudson Park, Schodack Island Park, and Moodna Creek. The Hudson River Estuary is a significant habitat for fish, plants, and other wildlife, and this milestone marks progress toward the river’s return to a dynamic and self-regulating ecosystem. If constructed, these projects would restore almost 24 football-sized fields of wetlands in total.

 


7. EARNED THREE PRESTIGIOUS AWARDS

The New Jersey Section of the American Water Resources Association honored Princeton Hydro with the “Excellence in Water Resources: Ecological Restoration Award” for the Linden Blue Acres Floodplain Restoration & Green Infrastructure project. This restored the ecological and floodplain function on former residential properties acquired by the NJDEP Blue Acres Program for the first time. The American Littoral Society and Princeton Hydro received the “Land Ethics Best Large-Scale Project Award” from Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve for the work they did to restore the health and water quality of the Metedeconk River flowing through Ocean County Park in Lakewood, NJ. The Iowa Court and South Green Living Shoreline Project in Little Egg Harbor and Tuckerton, NJ, for which Princeton Hydro lead the sediment sampling/testing and hydrographic survey, received the “2020 Best Green Project Award” from Engineering News-Record.

 


8. GAVE OVER 20 PRESENTATIONS ON WATERSHED MANAGEMENT & RESILIENCY MEASURES

During the Hudson River Estuary Program’s conference, Christiana Pollack, GISP, CFM presented on managing invasive Phragmites and restoring wetland habitats. And, at the Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast, Christiana presented on a flood mitigation analysis project in a flood-prone Philadelphia community. As part of The American Sustainable Business Council’s “Clean Water is Good for Business” campaign, Marketing & Communications Manager, Dana Patterson, led a webinar, titled “Making the Business Case on Clean Water Issues to the Media.” At the 2020 Delaware Wetlands Conference, Senior Project Manager, Michael Rehman, presented a wetland restoration project that illustrates how a degraded urban area can be successfully rehabilitated. And, for a New York State Federation of Lake Associations webinar series, Senior Aquatic Ecologist, Chris Mikolajczyk, CLM, presented on a unique lake management initiative. And, our Director of Aquatics, Dr. Fred Lubnow, joined Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell & other experts to discuss Harmful Algal Blooms at a virtual #ProtectCleanWater Town Hall hosted by the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund.

 


9. CELEBRATED A VARIETY OF STAFF ACHIEVEMENTS

Our staff our repeatedly striving for personal growth and continue to amaze us. North American Lake Management Society chose Chris L. Mikolajczyk, CLM, Senior Aquatic Ecologist as the next President of the Board of Directors. Senior Ecologist, Michael Rehman, PWS, and Fluvial Geomorphologist, Paul Woodworth, became Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioners through the Society for Ecological Restoration. Emily Bjorhus and Robert George earned their Professional Wetland Scientist certification through the Society of Wetland Scientists program. In January, our Marketing & Communications Manager, Dana Patterson, received the Society of American Military Engineers New Jersey Post’s “Young Member Award” for her efforts in maintaining and advancing the objectives of the organization (pictured above). A national science journal published Environmental Scientist, Brittany Smith’s, graduate research study, which assessed “The Ecogeomorphic Evolution of Louisiana’s Wax Lake Delta.” Cory Speroff passed his Landscape Architecture exams and Andrew Simko earned his Professional Engineering license. And, Dr. Clay Emerson won our Earth Day Photo Contest with his incredible close-up of an Eastern Fence Lizard.

 


10. WE STAYED UNIFIED AND CONNECTED

2020 was a particularly challenging year, but the Princeton Hydro family stood together. With offices spread across the Northeast and collaboration between offices on a daily basis, we were unknowingly prepared for the shift to remote work during an unexpected global pandemic. But, it took more than just working laptops and VPN connections to keep us going. Because of our staff’s motivation and dedication to serving our clients, we were able to not only keep our firm open, but we continued to grow our geographic and service reach.

 


Thank you for supporting Princeton Hydro and sharing our stories. We truly appreciate each and every one of our clients, partners, and friends. Cheers to a fruitful 2021 and beyond!

Princeton Hydro’s Chris Mikolajczyk Elected President of North American Lake Management Society

Princeton Hydro’s Senior Project Manager and Senior Aquatic Ecologist Chris L. Mikolajczyk, CLM, has been chosen as North American Lake Management Society’s (NALMS) next Board of Directors President-Elect. The President serves a three-year term including one year as President-Elect, one year as President, and one year as Immediate Past-President.

Founded in 1980, NALMS is dedicated to forging partnerships among citizens, scientists and professionals to foster the management and protection of lakes and reservoirs for today and tomorrow. The annual election is an important way for members to provide input into the management of the NALMS. In order to be eligible for a board position, candidates must be nominated by two organization members, be active in the organization, display leadership ability, and be able to accept the duties of office and attend semi-annual board meetings.

“I’m so proud to be a part of NALMS and honored to be chosen as President-Elect of this prestigious organization,” said Chris. “I look forward to working even more closely with the staff, the board, and members to uphold the mission of NALMS and seize the opportunities ahead.”

Chris attended his first NALMS conference in Madison, Wisconsin in 2001. From there, Chris went on to serve as the Region 2 Director from 2012–2015, and served and chaired the certification committee from 2015–2019. Chris is involved in the New Jersey Coalition of Lake Associations, is an active participant in New York State Federation of Lake Association’s annual conferences, and has recently joined the Colorado Lake and Reservoir Management Association. Chris was also recently featured in LakeLine Magazine, a quarterly e-magazine published by NALMS, and contributed the beautiful photo that appears on the magazine’s cover.

The Board of Director election results were announced during the NALMS International Symposium, which was held virtually this year. During the virtual symposium, NALMS also revealed the recipients of its annual Achievement Awards. The awards recognize individuals and organizations who have made valuable contributions to the goals of the organization or significant strides in lake management.

This year, the 2020 Leadership and Service Award winner was the Lake Champlain Committee of Burlington, VT. The 2020 Appreciation Award winners include: St. John’s River Water Management District in Palatka, FL; City of San Diego Water Utilities in San Diego, CA; and Water Quality Committee of the Normanoch Association, Inc. in Branchville, NJ.

Big congratulations to all award winners and newly elected Board members!

To see the full 2020 Board of Directors election results, go here. To learn more about the achievement awards and see a complete list of recipients, go here. To learn more about NALMS, go here.

Princeton Hydro is the industry leader in lake restoration and watershed management. We have conducted diagnostic studies and have developed management and restoration plans for over 300 lakes and watersheds throughout the country. This has included work for public and private recreational lakes, major water supply reservoirs, and watershed management initiatives conducted as part of USEPA and/or state funded programs. For more information about our lake management services, click here.

Chris is a CLM and Senior Project Manager in Princeton Hydro’s Aquatic Resources Practice Area and conducts the management, oversight, and coordination of aquatic ecology and water resource projects. He leads green infrastructure and lake restoration projects, performs water quality sampling and investigations, and conducts stormwater quality modeling. Chris has been with Princeton Hydro since 1999 and has studied and managed well over 75 lakes in his career there. Read his full bio here.

Blue Acres Floodplain Restoration in Linden Wins Award for Excellence in Water Resources

A project to increase storm resiliency and reduce flood risk through ecological and floodplain restoration on a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Blue Acres property in Linden, NJ was completed earlier this year. Today, we are thrilled to announce our project has received the “Excellence in Water Resources: Ecological Restoration Award” from the New Jersey Section – American Water Resources Association (NJ-AWRA).

“The Linden Blue Acres Green Infrastructure & Floodplain Restoration is an excellent model for showcasing a successful approach to the enhancement of public lands through a dynamic multidisciplinary, multi-stakeholder partnership,” said Mark Gallagher, Vice President of Princeton Hydro. “We are so proud to have seen this project through to completion and are all the more honored to be recognized by the NJ-AWRA with this prestigious award.”

The NJ-AWRA Excellence Award recognizes projects that demonstrate an innovative and effective approach to water resources management. The projects must embody the mission of the AWRA to advance multidisciplinary water resources education, management and research. The Linden Blue Acres project excelled in these areas, resulting in the successful nomination of the project to receive the award.

The City of Linden, located 13 miles southwest of Manhattan, is a highly urbanized area with a complex mix of residential, commercial, and industrial land uses. Originally settled as farmland on broad marshes, the city has deep roots in industrial production that emerged in the 19th century, and its easily accessible location on the Arthur Kill tidal straight helped fuel this industrial development.

Like other communities in the Arthur Kill Watershed, Linden also suffers severe flooding from heavy rains and storms. Due to a high percentage of impervious cover from houses, roadways, and sidewalks, even small rain events generate a significant amount of stormwater runoff. Tremley Point, a low-lying community of about 275 homes, is particularly prone to backwater flooding because of its low lying landscape position and its proximity to an extensive area of tidal wetlands associated with Marshes Creek, a tributary to the Rahway River.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused widespread destruction to the City of Linden. The City’s Tremley Point neighborhood was especially storm-ravaged; local news outlets reported that a 15-foot tidal surge overtook Tremley Point homes, destroyed roads, and washed up hazardous material such as a 150-gallon diesel tank.

22 properties in Tremley Point were aquired by NJDEP Blue Acres.

To help communities like Tremley Point recover, the NJDEP launched the Blue Acres program under which NJDEP purchases homes from willing sellers at pre-Sandy market values, so residents in areas of repetitive and catastrophic flooding can rebuild their lives outside flood-prone areas. Structures are demolished and the properties are permanently preserved as open space for recreation or conservation purposes.

As part of the NJDEP Blue Acres Program, Princeton Hydro, in collaboration with the City of Linden, Rutgers University, NJDEP, Phillips 66, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, New Jersey Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, and Enviroscapes, took on one of the first ecological restoration projects within Blue Acres-acquired properties. This project increased storm resiliency by reducing flooding and stormwater runoff by improving the ecological and floodplain function within the Tremley Point properties acquired by the NJDEP Blue Acres Program.

Project partners at present the project to the community in Linden, NJ

Nancy Sadlon, Manager of Public Affairs for Phillips 66-Bayway Refinery, accepted the award on behalf of the project team and said, “Our team not only made possible the first successful implementation of the floodplain restoration on Blue Acres lands but set a precedent on stakeholder engagement; we showed what is possible when all stakeholders are fully engaged and dedicated to the same goal.”

The project included the development and implementation of an on-the-ground natural green infrastructure-focused floodplain enhancement design involving the restoration of native coastal floodplain forest and meadow, as well as floodplain wetlands. The restored area provides natural buffering to storm surge and enhances floodplain functions to capture, infiltrate, store, and slow excess stormwater to reduce the risk of future flood damage. In addition, it restores natural habitat and provides public recreation access on NJDEP Blue Acres property.

Although the planning for this project occurred over many years, the project officially kicked off in December 2018.  Engineering design was finalized and permitting submissions were completed in September 2019, and construction commenced in October 2019.  The project construction was completed earlier this year.

This project embodies the NJ-AWRA mission as it focuses on restoring a floodplain and enhancing its functions by leveraging the success of the NJDEP Blue Acres buyouts to create even more flood protection for the community. This project also fulfills the NJ-AWRA criteria as several different organizations were involved in bringing it to fruition, including private entities, government agencies, universities, and nonprofit organizations.

Given that this project was the first restoration project to be completed on NJDEP Blue Acres-acquired property, the hope is that it will bring to light other possibilities for restoration work on Blue Acres land. This project can be used as an example for future projects of a similar nature.

We would also like to thank the project funders, whose support made this project possible: The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Phillips 66, and the New Jersey Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership.

During the award ceremony, which was held virtually, NJ-AWRA also recognized John A. Miller, PE, CFM, CSM with the Peter Homack Award for “his outstanding contributions toward a multidisciplinary understanding and management of water resources in New Jersey.” John previously worked with Princeton Hydro for 15 years as a Water Resources Engineer and now serves as the Mitigation Liaison to the State of New Jersey at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). We are so proud of John and all his accomplishments. This award is well deserved and we congratulate him on this honor.

Read more about the Linden Blue Acres project:

Setting the Precedent: Blue Acres Floodplain Restoration in Linden

UPDATE: Hudson River Habitat Restoration Study Completed & Chief’s Report Signed

Photo from USACE

As part of the multi-faceted effort to restore the vital Hudson River ecosystem, the USACE New York District launched the Hudson River Habitat RestorationPrinceton Hydro led the Hudson River Habitat Restoration Integrated Feasibility Study and Environmental Assessment for USACE. For this project, we established and evaluated baseline conditions through data collection and analysis; developed restoration objectives and opportunities; prepared an Environmental Assessment; and designed conceptual restoration plans for eight sites.

This week, Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, USACE Commanding General and 55th U.S. Army Chief of Engineers, signed the Hudson River Habitat Restoration Ecosystem Restoration Chief’s Report, which represents the completion of the study and makes it eligible for congressional authorization.

As stated in the USACE-issued news release, “The Chief’s Report recommends three individual ecosystem restoration projects including Henry Hudson Park, Schodack Island Park, and Moodna Creek within the 125-mile study area from the Federal Lock and Dam at Troy, NY to the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. These projects would restore a total of approximately 22.8 acres of tidal wetlands, 8.5 acres of side-channel and wetland complex, and 1,760 linear feet of living shoreline with 0.6 acres of tidal wetlands. The plan would also reconnect 7.8 miles of tributary habitat to the Hudson River through the removal of 3 barriers along Moodna Creek.”

“The signing of this Chief’s Report is a significant milestone for the HRHR Project,” said Col. Matthew Luzzatto, USACE New York District Commander. “This has truly been a team effort and I want to thank our non-federal sponsors, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State Department of State, and all of our engineers, scientists, and partners at the local, state and federal level for their unwavering support.”

Read the full press release here. And, for more background information on the Feasibility Study and proposed restoration work, check out our original blog post:

Feasibility Study Identifies Key Opportunities for Hudson River Habitat Restoration