(L to R) Rick Dovey, past president of the Association of Environmental Authorities of New Jersey, Jim Waltman, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, Nicole Wiley, chair of New Jersey section of the American Water Works Association and Jennifer Brunton, Jersey Water Works steering committee member and One Water Awards Jury Chair.

The inaugural New Jersey One Water Awards, sponsored jointly by Jersey Water Works, the Association of Environmental Authorities of New Jersey, and the New Jersey chapter of the American Water Works Association, were developed to honor initiatives that exemplify the principles of the One Water approach: the belief that all water- stormwater, drinking water, wastewater- has value that can be unlocked by implementing sustainable, inclusive, and integrated water resource management practices. Read the full profiles for the four winners of the 2017 One Water Awards.

Finding a natural wastewater solution

Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association needed a wastewater treatment system—and not just any system, but one that aligned with its mission of keeping water clean, safe, and healthy. Septic systems serving the various structures at the Watershed Center in Pennington had failed. Moreover, SBMWA planned to expand its facilities. Partnering with Natural Systems Utilities, SBMWA developed a holistic, natural solution: a constructed wetland that would function as a wastewater treatment system.

Because the Watershed Center’s combined facilities had to handle more than 2,000 gallons per day, NSU applied for and received discharge to groundwater and treatment works approval permits from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Once the permits were granted, NSU constructed the wetland in 2014. It commenced operations in 2015 and has achieved a high level of performance since then.

The constructed wetland is a natural, low-energy system that produces a high-quality effluent. Nitrogen is removed prior to groundwater recharge. The system also serves as a landscape that increases wildlife habitat and supports biodiversity. The wetland wastewater project is the ideal complement to the LEED Platinum-certified building that serves as the home of the Watershed Center.

As part of an educational center that has had more than 50,000 visitors since its opening in 2015, the wetland wastewater system provides the public with a strong example of holistic, sustainable water treatment. The watershed association has capitalized on the educational opportunities by installing informative signage and a walking audio tour with QR codes for mobile access. Additional signage in restrooms helps visitors understand the connection between wastewater and the wetland outdoors. The watershed also works with nearby municipalities that are interested initiating similar projects.

Partners: Natural Systems Utilities

Diagram of the wetland system (click for PDF)

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