December 5, 2017
Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association (SBMWA) was recognized and awarded the 2017 One Water Award for its natural wastewater solution in the Nonprofit/ Academic Category. This year’s awardees were announced at the November Association of Environmental Authorities conference and recognized at the December 2017 Jersey Water Works conference.
SBMWA sought a wastewater treatment system that aligned with its mission of keeping water clean, safe, and healthy. Unfortunately, septic systems serving the various structures at the Watershed Center in Pennington had failed. Partnering with Natural Systems Utilities (NSU), a holistic, natural solution was developed: a constructed wetland that would function as an onsite wastewater treatment system.
As 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 in 2014, NSU constructed the wetland and commenced operations in 2015.
The constructed wetland is a natural, low-energy system that produces a high-quality effluent. Nitrogen is removed prior to groundwater recharge. In addition to the system achieving a high level of performance, it also serves as a landscape that increases wildlife habitat and supports biodiversity. As part of the 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 onsite wastewater treatment. The watershed association provides educational opportunities through a walking audio tour complete with QR codes for mobile access. Additional signage in restrooms helps visitors understand the connection between wastewater and the wetland outdoors.
Information about SBMWA is available at: https://thewatershed.org/