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COMMUNITY OUTREACH FOR WATERSHED PROTECTION

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Rowan University received funding from the USEPA for watershed assessment of two local creeks in the state of New Jersey. The project draws on two creeks in watershed management area (WMA) 18 in New Jersey. WMA 18 is the lower Delaware River WMA and encompasses eleven watersheds. Both of the selected projects are in close proximity to campuses of the university, the main campus in Glassboro and a satellite campus in Camden, respectively. One project in the Boroughs of Glassboro and Pitman, focuses on the Chestnut Branch of Mantua Creek. This Creek is of environmental importance because it is the headwaters for Alcyon Lake in Pitman, and flows adjacent to a nearby superfund site – the LiPari Landfill. The other, Newton Creek, in Waterfront South in the City of Camden, is close to another superfund site, the Welsbach and General Gas Mantle Company.

The project is multidisciplinary in nature and requires expertise from various disciplines. Tasks include watershed characterization through hydrologic and water quality assessment and modeling and outreach. Water quality parameters being monitored include ph, DO, temperature, solids, organics, metals and nutrients (nitrate and phosphate). HEC-HMS is being used to develop a model to show the impacts of development on the watersheds. Outreach activities include faculty and student presentations on watersheds, nonpoint source pollution, its impact on human health and the environment, and prevention options. Contamination of soil and groundwater via nonpoint source pollution and cleanup of contaminated water are also demonstrated using simple visual experiments for a non-technical audience.

Finally, to create a bridge between environmental professionals and the local community, environmental information will be made available in easy to understand and visually engaging mediums for both watersheds developed to equip the local residents with an interactive means to access information after the project. This innovative program for community outreach utilizes newly available multimedia technologies for a more effective dissemination of environmental information among government entities, schools and community groups. The deliverables include an interactive website and a CD-ROM for local government planners, environmental specialists, developers, and citizens.

A multidisciplinary team including civil and environmental engineers and social science professionals with experience in environmental science, geospatial technologies and community outreach activities are working collaboratively along with students to accomplish these tasks.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2004

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