On Wednesday, May 7 at 7:00 PM the Harrington Park Environmental Commission held a panel discussion entitled “How to be better Stewards of Lands and Waterways”, with a focus on our local watershed eco-system. Harrington Park, like many of the neighboring towns of the Northern Valley, is located within the footprint of the Hackensack River and the United Water reservoir system that it feeds. The streams and creeks and rivers in this watershed are designated Category One, which means they are “…waters protected from any measurable changes in water quality because of their exceptional ecological significance, exceptional recreational significance, exceptional water supply significance, or exceptional fisheries resources.” The water that we see and we drive by daily in the Oradell Reservoir is the water that we drink, so it is particularly important that the water coming into the reservoir be clean and free of pollutants or contaminants. Speakers John Zuzeck, and Don Hirsch, Environmental Specialists from the Northern Bureau of Water Compliance and Enforcement for the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, spoke about their work of inspecting and enforcing water and air quality specifically in North Jersey. Capt. Bill Sheehan, Executive Director of Hackensack Riverkeeper discussed the work of the organization and focused on local Northeastern Jersey cases of significant pollution and their resolution. The audience learned about storm water and drainage concerns and was reminded “if you see something, say something”>>>the NJDEP hotline is 1- 877-WARNDEP (1-877-927-6337). Finally Ray Cywinksi, mayor of Demarest and a Manager at United Water spoke briefly about United Water and their stewardship efforts. The Hackensack River watershed is ~ 112 square miles; only 8% of the watershed property, including underwater, is owned by United Water. Everything that gets flushed down a storm sewer or applied to roads or lawns will filter down and end up in the reservoir—the source of our drinking water. Road salt has been a particular concern after this cold and snowy winter. Pesticides or fertilizers applied to lawns will wash into the local streams and drains and end up in the reservoir. In order to improve the quality of the wetlands, a pilot program to restore a native wetland area will be taking place soon in Closter: where 17 of a 45 acre property will have invasive vegetation removed and native plants/shrubs/trees planted. This area will be surrounded by deer fence and monitored for 5 years with time lapse cameras. The evening was very informative and led the audience members to consider what they can do locally to help protect and promote our environment!
For more information, please visit the following sites: http://www.unitedwater.com/environment.aspx, http://hackensackriverkeeper.org/ and http://www.state.nj.us/dep/