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New SCCC Rain Garden provides storm drain management on campus

10/27/2021 2:39:51 PM

Sussex County Community College's newest landscape project serves a functional purpose on campus. The new project provides stormwater management to campus, and it is a Best Management Practice, an implementation of Green Infrastructure known as a rain garden.

Rain gardens are depressed areas of a landscape designed to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff into local streams and stormwater drains by diverting rainwater from impervious surfaces, such as roads and sidewalks. The rain garden includes native plants that thrive in the garden's conditions; wet at the lowest points and dry in the upper portions.

SCCC's new rain garden has two "cells" which fill with water one after the other. The water will all drain within 24 hours as the garden is not meant to have standing water. Instead, its purpose is to divert, temporarily detain, and allow water to infiltrate slowly, recharging the groundwater. The new garden will manage 197,103 gallons of water a year and keep it from entering the stream on campus, which is the headwaters of the Paulinskill River.

"I am really excited to be a part of this dynamic collaboration with SCCC, Watershed Management professionals, and Newton's DPW," stated Erin Collins, Agricultural Business & Horticultural Science Program Supervisor at Sussex. "Furthermore, I am honored to help implement stormwater management practices here on Main Campus as this type of green infrastructure is where ecology and landscaping meet to demonstrate native plants, beauty, and purpose."

The newly installed SCCC Rain Garden Demonstration project collaborates between four organizations, including the SCCC Facilities team and the Horticultural and Agriculture programs at the College. Other organizations include the SCMUA-Wallkill River Watershed Management Group who spearheaded the project and utilized grant funding. They coordinated the garden's execution with the Rutgers Waters Resources Program, which designed the plan after extensive observation and site visits. In addition, the Newton Department of Public Works donated their time and expertise to excavating the rain garden, moving soil and rocks to and from the site, and replacing the sidewalk as an in-kind donation to the College. 

A garden of plantings is being overlooked by students. Student outside near the Rain Garden listen to the professor. Excavators dig up the Rain Garden area. The Rain Garden Sign is installed.