Meet Princeton Hydro’s Sustainability & Stewardship Team

Princeton Hydro’s “why” centers on our commitment “to changing our ecosystems, quality of life, and communities for the better.” In order to fully realize our “why,” our team recognized the need for a company-wide sustainability plan that examines our current actions and explores new opportunities. As our company increases in size and revenue, we recognize the need to both highlight our sustainability success stories and ensure we continue operating with sustainability at the forefront. Therefore, via the initiative of our staff, a Sustainability and Stewardship Team was formed in 2018 to develop our guiding plan.

Today, we’re putting the spotlight on the folks who orchestrate the Sustainability & Stewardship Working Group to learn more about the contributions and positive impacts they’ve made over the past two years.


Let’s Meet Them!


Jennifer Duff, Administrative Assistant

Jennifer is passionate about climate and environmental issues both as part of the Sustainability Team and outside of work through her connection to CT Fibershed, a group that encourages purchasing wool or other fiber products from local farmers. Jennifer’s two favorite accomplishments for the committee thus far are helping to switch over office purchasing to focus on recycled and green products and cleaners, and researching sustainable products for our annual holiday gift-giving initiative.


Nicole Hanson, Executive Assistant

With her strong love for the environment, Nicole appreciates all that she has learned about sustainability from serving on the Team with her colleagues. Her favorite personal contribution was working on the Green Product Purchasing plan to ensure that, moving forward, company cleaning products would be greener.
In the future, she’d like to work on a plan encouraging employees to adopt alternatives to single-occupant vehicle commuting.


Michelle Lubnow, Administrative Assistant

As a lover of graphic art, Michelle created and circulated a sustainability newsletter every month, which included the latest news about sustainable practices and conservation activities.

One of her main goals in joining the Sustainability & Stewardship Working Group was to bring easier and more cost-effective recycling methods to the forefront.


Kelsey Mattison, Marketing Coordinator

Kelsey gained a strong interest in sustainability while attending St. Lawrence University for her undergraduate degree where she was a member of the sustainability club on campus. She is interested in helping Princeton Hydro live their “why” by shifting the office and company culture toward cutting down on energy consumption and increasing awareness of waste production. Kelsey has enjoyed working on various sustainability initiatives with the rest of the committee members since she joined the company in 2018.


Dana Patterson, Director of Marketing & Communications

Shortly after Dana joined Princeton Hydro in 2016, she collaborated with her then colleague Rupal Patel to launch the Sustainability & Stewardship initiative. The two, who were already buddies from their graduate school days at Yale School of the Environment, felt strongly that Princeton Hydro could be driving as much energy into corporate social responsibility internally as the firm was already doing externally in its ecosystem restoration project work.

Rupal and Dana gathered interest from staff and encouraged folks from each of our five offices and all practice areas to join, and successfully formed a team with a diversity of experience and knowledge. Collaborating with this newly formed group to assemble a formal strategy plan for the firm is one of her favorite accomplishments so far. She noted, “the group displays true teamwork; everyone is involved – from a junior scientist to a member of the Leadership Team – equally contributing and sharing ideas to develop a plan that will have real impact in reducing our firm’s carbon footprint.”


Jack Szczepanski, PhD, Senior Project Manager

Jack joined the Sustainability & Stewardship Team because he felt an obligation to do his part in having as little negative environmental impact as possible, including at work. He is grateful to work at a place that features sustainability as part of its corporate culture.

Jack is determined to get the offices started on worm composting, and he enjoys having spirited discussions about this topic with his colleagues.


The Sustainability & Stewardship Team uses their passion for and knowledge of sustainable practices to implement policies and protocols company-wide that help reduce our energy use and waste input, while encouraging our employees to consider choices they make in their everyday practices. The first Sustainability & Stewardship plan was developed by the team (as well as previous team members Emily Bjorhus, Rupal Patel, and Sophie Breitbart) in 2018. Here’s a few actions that were laid out in the plan, which have since been completed:

  • WASTE REDUCTION.  Office engagement around waste reduction has been ramping up with new informational signage on recycling, installation of composting bins in the offices, and tapping into local programs to recycle ink cartradges. We’ve also incentivized staff to “Bring Your Own” utensils/plate for our annual picnic each year.
  • GREEN PURCHASING.  We created  a “Green Purchasing Plan & Policy” for office supplies and products, which was formally adopted by the owners and is being implemented company-wide. Since, all offices have been eqipped with reusable kitchenware, green cleaning products are prioritized, and the marketing department has shifted to purchasing sustainable promotional products.
  • STEWARDSHIP.  The firm provided $10,000+ in sponsorships and donations to like-minded nonprofits organizations and held two office donation drives. Our staff volunteered to plant trees in Exton Park, PA for Arbor Day and helped install a living shoreline made from hundreds of upcycled Christmas Trees in Point Pleasant, NJ.
  • WATER & ENERGY USE.  The team collected office use data and outlined specific actions that each office can take to to increase energy efficiency and decrease water use in all offices.
  • TRANSPORTATION.  All offices have opted into carbon offset programs through Enterprise when renting vehicles, and we’ve started tracking mileage traveled for company vehicles.  And, due to COVID-19, most employees drastically reduced their travel due to the shift to remote working.

While the team has been working remotely throughout most of 2020 and into 2021, the Sustainability and Stewardship team is as committed as ever to furthering Princeton Hydro’s mission of changing our ecosystems, quality of life, and communities for the better, and will continue to make progress on many of the goals outlined in our plan.

Stay Tuned for More!

 

Winter Events Spotlight: Webinars & Virtual Conferences

Throughout the first quarter of 2021, the Princeton Hydro team has participated in a variety of virtual events focused on conserving, restoring, and protecting our precious water resources. Here’s a snapshot of what’s to come:

March 1 – 3: Delaware Estuary Science and Environmental Summit

The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary’s Science and Environmental Summit, happening virtually this year, brings together scientists, managers, restoration practitioners, and educators from different sectors to share the latest scientific information and make ecological linkages that promote a better understanding of the Delaware watershed as a whole. During this year’s summit, Princeton Hydro is virtually exhibiting and leading four presentations:

The schedule also includes many student presentations and posters, which will judged and evaluated by a panel of volunteer judges. Princeton Hydro President Geoffrey Goll will judge three of the student presentations. The winners will be announced at the Summit closing ceremony.

View the full agenda & Register here.

March 3 & 4: PENNSYLVANIA LAKE MANAGEMENT SOCIETY (PALMS) ANNUAL CONFERENCE

PALMS is hosting its 31st annual conference during which lake professionals, students, recreation enthusiasts, lakeside residents, and community members explore a variety of topics related to managing lakes and reservoirs. This year’s conference, themed, “Managing for Emerging Threats,” will be held virtually via Zoom. Attendees can participate in a collection of professional presentations, workshops and panel discussions. Princeton Hydro’s Director of Aquatic Resources, Dr. Fred Lubnow, is presenting on the “Implementation of Various In-Lake Management Techniques to Address HABs in Lake Hopatcong, NJ.”

View the full conference agenda & Register here

March 8: New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Annual Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Summit

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) is hosting an all-day, virtual Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Summit. Attendees will participate in interactive educational sessions, lead by HAB and lake management experts, on topics like emerging HAB treatment technologies and best management practices for controlling HABs. Princeton Hydro’s Director of Aquatic Resources Dr. Fred Lubnow is giving a presentation on “The evaluation of innovative measures to prevent, mitigate, and/or control HABs in Lake Hopatcong.” Participants will also be introduced to the newly established NJ HAB Expert Team, which includes two Princeton Hydro scientists: Dr. Lubnow and Dr. Steve Souza. The HAB Summit is part of Governor Phil Murphy and the NJDEP’s multi-pronged initiative to reduce and prevent future HAB outbreaks in waterbodies throughout the state.

Learn More & Register here

March 9: Community Engagement – The Key to a Successful Dam Removal Project

The NJ Statewide Dam Removal Partnership will host a virtual event titled, Community Engagement: The Key to a Successful Dam Removal Project. This free one-hour information session will focus on the “who, what, where, when, and how” of a successful dam removal implementation and community outreach campaign. Presenters include experts from Raritan Headwaters Association and Musconetcong Watershed Association. Registration is required.

Learn more & Register here

May 4: Society for American Military Engineers (SAME) North Atlantic Industry Day

North Atlantic Industry Day 2021 is a virtual event during which registrants can participant in briefings and presentations from government officials, industry experts, and agency members from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, and FEMA. Topics include the latest trends in resiliency, cybersecurity, COVID-19, sustainability, government contracting evaluation, tips for landing government contracts, and much more! SAME aims to provide leaders from the A/E/C, environmental, and facility management industries the opportunity to come together with federal agencies in order to showcase best practices and highlight future opportunities for small businesses to work in the federal market.

Learn more & Resgister here.

INCASE YOU MISSED IT: NJ HIGHLANDS COALITION WEBINAR – Benefits of Riparian Buffers

On February 9, NJ Highlands Coalition hosted a webinar lead by Princeton Hydro Founding Principal Dr. Stephen Souza and Policy Director for the NJ Highlands Coalition Elliott Ruga. Participants of the webinar – “A River Runs By It: The Environmental and Societal Benefits of Riparian Buffers” – learned about riparian buffers; what they are, why they exist, and how they protect water quality in streams and rivers. By showcasing real-world examples, the presenters illustrated the importance of restoring stream banks to enhance water quality and promote healthy aquatic life and fish populations. The webinar and preceding Q&A discussion are available to view on the Highlands Coalition YouTube Channel. 

Watch the complete webinar here.

STAY TUNED FOR MORE EVENT SPOTLIGHTS!

 

 

 

Employee Spotlight: 3 Team Members Earn Maryland DNR Certifications

Here at Princeton Hydro, our team members are committed to learning new technologies, staying ahead of regulatory changes, expanding their knowledge, and earning professional certifications in order to better service our clients and the public.

Today, we are proud to put the spotlight on three team members who recently achieved new professional certifications from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDNR).

Environmental Scientist Duncan Simpson, PWS, earned his Maryland Biological Stream Survey (MBSS) Fish Crew Leader certification. He is the only person to have earned this prestigious certification in 2020. He also successfully completed the MBSS Physical Habitat Assessment.

Staff Scientists Ivy Babson and Jesse Smith passed the written MBSS Benthic Macroinvertebrate Sampling Certification test, and successfully completed the related field audit.

The MBSS program was started by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in 1993 in order to improve consistency among all individuals in Maryland using MBSS habitat assessment protocols so that habitat data are comparable. The MBSS was Maryland’s first probability-based or random design stream sampling program intended to provide unbiased estimates of stream conditions with known precision at various spatial scales ranging from large 6-digit river basins and medium-sized 8-digit watersheds to the entire state. This program is a cost-effective and efficient way to characterize Maryland’s 10,000+ miles of freshwater streams.

Duncan attended the Fish Crew Leader and Physical Habitat Assessment certification trainings, which were held virtually due to COVID-19. Following the trainings, he successfully passed the required written exams and field audits.

For the habitat assessment field audit, Duncan had to complete an assessment and arrive at the same conclusions as the MBSS experts. He assessed a stream reach for several instream and upland habitat characteristics including audits of bank erosion; bank formation and substrate; stream character; woody debris; max depth; channelization; and riparian vegetation.

The fish crew leader audit required Duncan to lead a team of individuals on a mock fish sampling event during which he was responsible for overseeing that the crew using the MBSS Round Four Sampling Protocol. In order to pass the audit, Duncan had to illustrate his intimate familiarity with every aspect of MBSS sampling and have at least three years of experience with MBSS sampling or with another comparable ecological field sampling effort.

“I first learned about the MBSS certification in 2010 and have been hoping to take the training and earn the certification ever since. I truly admire and respect the scientific rigor of MBSS, so to be recognized with this prestigious certification is a great milestone in my career and something that I’m very proud of.” – Duncan Simpson

For Staff Scientists Ivy and Jesse, the MBSS Benthic Macroinvertebrate field audit required that they collect kicks/jabs in twenty locations within the stream reach, located within the Elbow Branch in Susquehanna State Park. These twenty kicks/jabs were divided up into different microhabitat types depending on which were most dominant in the reach. The MBSS auditor simultaneously collected the same number of each microhabitat type.

The twenty kicks performed by each sampler were compiled into one sample that was preserved and sent to the Maryland State Labs for analysis. In order to pass the audit, Jesse and Ivy’s Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity (a metric based on the diversity and tolerance of the organisms collected) had to be within one unit of the auditor’s. Additionally, their successful audit hinged on having the correct supplies and on decontaminating their gear to prevent the spread of invasive species.

“The training experience with MBSS allowed me to gain a deep appreciation of the role that benthic macroinvertebrates hold in our freshwater ecosystems. I’ve been able to develop a unique skillset to help my, and ultimately others’, understanding of benthic macroinvertebrate species richness and what they indicate in terms of water quality that contribute to the health of these special ecosystems.” -Ivy Babson

 

“I’ve had an interest in aquatic macroinvertebrates since college, and this training experience with the MBSS helped me further appreciate the process that goes into studying them and the ecosystems in which they live. This certification will allow me further opportunities to work with these organisms in the future, and I look forward to more work in this area.” – Jesse Smith

In total, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources offers five certification opportunities in MBSS protocols. The certifications include benthic macroinvertebrate sampling, benthic macroinvertebrate laboratory processing and subsampling, fish crew leader, fish taxonomy, and physical habitat assessment. In some cases, prerequisite certifications and trainings are required in order to apply and complete the DNR’s MBSS certifications. For example, in order to achieve the benthic macroinvertebrate taxonomy program, a previous Society for Freshwater Science certification is required.

Attendance at MBSS spring and summer trainings is a partial requirement for most of the certifications. Participants must pass written tests and field audits, as well as additional tests and quality assurance procedures. Passing a laboratory audit and a written test is also required for the benthic macroinvertebrate laboratory processing and subsampling certification.

Congratulations to Duncan, Ivy, & Jesse!

Click here for more information about the MBSS certification program. If you’re interested in learning more about the wide variety of engineering and environmental services Princeton Hydro offers, go here: princetonhydro.com/services.

Miry Run Ponds Master Plan Wins 2021 Landscape Architectural Chapter Award

Miry Run Ponds Master Plan - Mercer County

Over 40 years ago, Mercer County purchased 279 acres of flood-prone land along Miry Run  as part of a restoration and flood mitigation initiative. Mercer County’s Master Plan, approved in 2020, goes above and beyond the original vision, proposing considerable improvements to the area, including 34 acres of reforestation, 64 acres of new meadows, 19 acres of vernal pools, and 7.9 miles of walking trails. Mercer County Park Commission contracted Princeton Hydro and Simone Collins Landscape Architecture to develop the plan.

Today, we are thrilled to announce that the Miry Run Ponds Master Plan was awarded the 2021 Landscape Architectural Chapter Award from the New Jersey Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects (NJASLA).

Each year, the NJASLA Professional Awards honor the best in landscape architecture in the region. Only one Chapter Award is given annually for exceptional performance in any category, as determined by a unanimous vote of the jury members. This year’s jury was composed of distinguished members from the Oregon ASLA Chapter. There were 19 total projects entered into the 2021 competition.

“The Park Commission is honored to have a project recognized by the NJASLA and we look forward to acting on our plan in the years ahead,” said Park Commission Executive Director Aaron T. Watson.

When Mercer County acquired the property in 1978, the original plan was to create a recreation area and flood control site. In order to mitigate local flooding, the County Park Commission developed a dam, which created a 55-acre tree-lined lake. The rest of the property comprises undeveloped uplands, wetlands, woodlands, and open space with limited-use recreation areas primarily only used by immediate neighbors.

With 55 acres of lake space, however, Mercer County saw huge potential for what the park could provide and set out on a mission to create a Master Plan for the area with three primary regional goals:

  • Provide passive recreation to complement other County activities;
  • Preserve and enhance the habitat, water quality, and natural systems that currently exist onsite; and
  • Provide linkage to adjacent trails and parks.

The gap between the current condition and the huge potential pushed the Mercer County Park Commission to contract Princeton Hydro and Simone Collins Landscape Architecture in 2018 to assess the land area and propose a concept plan to enhance the area and create recreational lake activities.

Beginning in December 2018 and throughout the course of 2019, the project team implemented the necessary measures to fully assess the status of the expansive property. Applying expertise in science-based assessment and evaluations, our aquatic ecologists and environmental scientists performed:

These evaluations were conducted in order to better understand the existing site and area conditions, to assist in the development of the site plan, and for future incorporation into Mercer County’s Draft Master Plan.

In addition, our project team facilitated focus groups with local municipalities, residents, interest groups, and County stakeholders to seek their input and to report the site evaluation findings. In partnership with Mercer County, the team led many public community meetings that served as a platform for discussion about the project and conceptual site designs. The meetings helped to inform the process through collaboration and determine how best to manage the site moving forward in order to meet the needs of the community and future generations.

In November of 2019, a draft master plan was released, followed by a 60-day public comment period. The commission hosted a series of public meetings to solicit input for potential improvements to the park. Having reviewed and considered all comments, the Park Commission’s Steering Committee and team of expert consultants were able to finalize the plan, which focused on environmental stewardship and education paired with passive land and water-based activities.

“With input from the public, our consultants helped us create a vision for the park that will improve water quality in the lake and make it more accessible to Mercer County residents,” said Aaron T. Watson.

The Master Plan was then presented to the Park Commission for review and approved in 2020.

The improvement plans comprises:

  • Several types of trails and boardwalks that total approximately 7 miles, including a tree canopy walk-through over an area of vernal pools.
  • Parking lots and driveways
  • Small restrooms and pavilions
  • A group camping area that would accommodate about 30-40 campers
  • A nature-based playground and an ADA inclusive playground
  • Kayak launch and water trail
  • Fishing access areas
  • Protected swimming area for a limited number of swimmers each day
  • A native plant arboretum and horticultural garden

Of the total Miry Run Ponds land area, only 17 acres, or approximately 7.4 percent of the site, would be disturbed for trails, parking and other park visitor facilities. The site’s valuable natural features will be augmented through the establishment of 34 acres of new forest and 64 acres of native meadow.

The Master Plan serves as a long-term vision for improvements to the property and will be implemented over multiple phases. The construction of major park improvements is projected for 2022-2023.

To view the Final Master Plan, visit the Park Commission’s website. To learn more about the NJASLA and see a complete list of 2021 award winners, go here.

Preventing HABs with Innovative Aeration Technology

When monitoring and managing the health of a lake or pond, dissolved oxygen is one of the most important indicators of water quality. Dissolved oxygen refers to the level of free, non-compound oxygen present in water. It is an important parameter in assessing water quality because of its influence on the organisms living within a body of water; the vast majority of aquatic life needs sufficient amounts of oxygen dissolved in water in order to survive.

Pollutants, the decomposition of invasive aquatic weed growth, and algae blooms significantly reduce dissolved oxygen. The purpose of aeration in lake management is to increase the concentrations of dissolved oxygen in the water. Aeration systems achieve these water quality improvements by helping prevent stagnation of water, increasing circulation, disrupting thermal stratification which provides “through-column” mixing, and minimizes the occurrence of harmful algal blooms (HABs).

Princeton Hydro has been working with the Lake Hopatcong Commission and Lake Hopatcong Foundation to implement several projects aimed at reducing the impacts of HABs in Lake Hopatcong, including the installation of three innovative aeration systems in different areas of the lake. Funding for these projects have come from a NJ Department of Environmental Protection Water Quality Restoration HAB grant awarded to the Commission in 2020, with additional funding and support coming from the Foundation, Morris and Sussex Counties, and four municipalities that surround Lake Hopatcong.

Air Curtain Aeration System

Our team completed the installation of an air curtain system at Shore Hills Country Club in Roxbury Township in early November 2020. The system produces a wall of bubbles that provide the kinetic energy to push and deflect away floating cyanobacteria and other toxins trying to enter the waterway. Installed near the shoreline, the air curtain increases the movement of the water, making it more difficult for floating debris, pollutants, and HABs to accumulate near the shore and in nearby shallow water areas.


Nanobubble Aeration System
Image by: Moleaer Inc.

Image by: Moleaer, Inc.

Nanobubbles are extremely small gas bubbles that have several unique physical properties that make them very different from normal bubbles. Nanobubble aerators directly saturate the water with significantly more oxygen than traditional water aeration systems. These systems produce ultra-fine bubbles that are nearly invisible to the human eye. Unlike “traditional” aeration systems that push air bubbles to the surface in order to circulate the water and increase the dissolved oxygen levels, nanobubbles are so small that they remain within the water column for an extended period of time, directly oxygenating the water. Our team is scheduled to complete a nanobubble system install for Lake Hopatcong in the Spring of 2021.


Nanobubble Aeration System with Ozone

At Lake Hopatcong’s Lake Forest Yacht Club in Jefferson Township, our team installed a Nanobubble System with Ozone, which was completed in November 2020. This system generates ultrafine microbubbles (nanobubbles) containing ozone, which is used to disinfect water supplies and works to break down organic material in the water. These nanobubbles harness the unique biocidal power of ozone and place it into a safe delivery mechanism that is highly effective but also ensures human and environmental safety. The resulting ozone nanobubbles eliminate a wide range of polluting chemicals as well as herbicides, pesticides, and microbial toxins, which are all known causes of HABs.

The nanobubble technology is a relatively new strategy for preventing cyanobacteria blooms. Evaluation of the air curtain and both nanobubble systems in controlling and minimizing HABs in Lake Hopatcong will begin in Spring 2021. Our team will closely monitor the effectiveness throughout the 2021 season and provide detailed reports of our findings. Stay tuned for more info!

Increasing the dissolved oxygen levels in a pond or lake provides many benefits including improved water quality, healthier fish and plants, more efficient filtration, and reduced nuisance algae growth. Princeton Hydro has installed numerous aerations systems in waterbodies throughout the northeast. Contact us to determine if aeration is the right solution for your pond or lake: PHydro/LakeManagement.

Deadline Approaching for Municipal Compliance on NJ Stormwater Rule

March 2, 2021 is the deadline for New Jersey’s municipalities to comply with the new stormwater management ordinances laid out in the New Jersey Stormwater Management Rule (N.J.A.C. 7:8).

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) revised the rule last year to now require construction projects to include green infrastructure in order to meet the three performance criteria that NJDEP sets forth for stormwater management. The new rule gives local governments an opening to revise their existing stormwater management ordinances to better manage flooding and improve compromised water quality.

The rule defines green infrastructure as, “a stormwater management measure that manages stormwater close to its source by: treating stormwater runoff through infiltration into subsoil; treating stormwater runoff through filtration by vegetation or soil; or storing stormwater runoff for reuse.”

The pre-existing rule required that major developments incorporate nonstructural stormwater management BMPs/strategies to the “maximum extent practicable” to meet their criteria. The amended rule not only gives specific suggestions for the kind of BMPs it’s looking for by adding a definition of green infrastructure, but it also makes those BMPs/strategies a requirement for compliance with the rule’s minimum standards. Also included in the rule are tables outlining the application of each type of stormwater BMP.

Another update to the rule is that motor vehicle surfaces are now incorporated into the definition of major development. The amended rule requires these motor vehicle surfaces to have 80% total suspended solids (TSS) removal in order to maintain water quality. These surfaces include standard pavement drive/parking areas and gravel and dirt drive/parking areas, according to the rule. However, the rule does not require water quality control for runoff from other impervious surfaces that are not traveled by automobiles, such as rooftops and sidewalks, or other paved walkway areas.

New Jersey municipalities need to comply with the new standards and the ordinances must be in effect by March 2nd, 2021. To make this transition a bit smoother, NJDEP released a revised Model Ordinance in Appendix D of the NJ Stormwater BMP Manual to act as a sample for municipalities to follow when adopting these new regulations.

The Watershed Institute also drafted its own Model Ordinance to help municipalities go beyond the updated rule and strengthen protections to benefit the environment. The Model Ordinance builds on the state’s baseline requirements with the following enhancements:

  • Reduced threshold definition for major development
  • Requirement for major developments to treat runoff from all impervious surfaces for water quality
  • Requirement for stormwater management for minor development over 250-square-feet
  • Stormwater management for redevelopment
  • The use of Low Impact Development techniques
  • Maintenance reporting requirements

At the end of last year, The Watershed Institute held a webinar about the state’s new Green Infrastructure rule. The webinar, attended by 240 people, included three presentations that provided a detailed look at the NJDEP’s rule updates and the steps needed for local governments to comply.

The presentations, given by the following green infrastructure experts, are available to view in full:

You can view the full webinar by clicking here.

 

At Princeton Hydro, we recognize the benefit of green infrastructure and we’ve been incorporating it into our engineering designs since before the term was regularly used in the stormwater lexicon. We’ve been following the rule amendments very closely, and, last year, we developed the following blog to help folks garner a deeper understanding of green infrastructure, interpret the rule updates, and break down the complexities of the stormwater guidelines:

Understanding The Updated NJ Stormwater Rule

If you have further questions regarding green infrastructure or stormwater utilities, we encourage you to contact us.

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