Sussex County Community College’s newest landscape project is a rain garden that will protect and recharge groundwater while nurturing native plants.
Rain gardens are depressed areas designed to divert rainwater from impervious surfaces like roads and sidewalks before it runs into local streams and drains.
The rain garden at SCCC includes native plants that thrive in the garden’s conditions, wet at the lowest points and dry in the upper portions. It has two “cells” that fill with rainwater, one after the other, allowing the water to infiltrate slowly and recharge the aquifer. 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 honored to help implement storm water 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,” Erin Collins, agricultural business and horticultural science program supervisor at SCCC, said she is excited to be a part of this dynamic collaboration with watershed management professionals and Newton’s Department of Public Works.
The project is a collaboration among the SCCC facilities team and the horticultural and agriculture programs; the SCMUA-Wallkill River Watershed Management Group, which spearheaded the project and used grant funding, and the Rutgers Waters Resources Program, which designed the plan after extensive observation and site visits. The Newton Department of Public Works donated their time and expertise in excavating, moving soil and rocks to and from the site, and replacing the sidewalk as an in-kind donation to the college.
The garden will only look more impressive next year when plants fill in and are in bloom. It is an educational tool that will benefit students and guests.