Friday, July 9, 2010

Passaic River Restoration

Cleaning the riverside of the Passaic River at Lyndhurst. Photo via

In order to protect and preserve local streams and rivers from water pollution, the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners (PVSC) operate one of the country's largest treatment plants for the wastewaters of northern New Jersey.

In 1998, they created the Passaic River/Newark Bay Restoration Program to promote the recreational and economic uses of Newark Bay, the Passaic River and its tributaries. The Program is comprised of three elements: shoreline clean-ups, floatables removal, and "in-house" clean-ups.

The shoreline clean-up element has been among the most successful programs of its kind in the nation. Beginning in 1998, PVSC began assisting volunteer groups in conducting shoreline clean-ups to remove litter and other debris from along waterways within its service area.

In 2000, PVSC created a department of 15 full-time personnel to conduct larger shoreline clean-ups in addition to those organized by volunteer groups and community agencies. To date, PVSC's Restoration Program has conducted or assisted volunteers in more than 250 shoreline clean-ups that have removed over 1,000 tons of litter and debris from area shorelines.

In 1999, PVSC added floatables removal to the Program, after using state grant monies to purchase an innovative 50-foot surface skimmer vessel. Christened the S.V. Newark Bay, this vessel embarks on daily patrols on the Newark Bay and Passaic River, removing floating debris and litter. In 2001, PVSC added a second, smaller skimmer vessel to its clean-up arsenal, this one to conduct daily patrols in shallow water that had been inaccessible to the larger vessels.

Finally, PVSC conducts "in-house" riverbank clean-ups using the services of its employees. These projects are in response to requests for assistance from local municipal leaders. The crew is deployed to clean and restore specific problem areas within the PVSC service area. The success of the program can be demonstrated in its numbers. Since 1998, PVSC has removed 650 tons of floating matter and over 2,000 tons of shoreline debris.

Want to organize a shoreline clean-up? Contact Bob DeVita, River Restoration Program Manager, at (973) 466-2714.

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