LINCROFT, NJ - The need to create “rain gardens” in New Jersey to capture runoff and control erosion will be discussed at 6:30 pm, Monday, March 26 at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft. The meeting, hosted by the college and open to the general public, also will include the college’s students and the members of the N.J. Friends of Clearwater and the Jersey Shore (Monmouth) Group of the Sierra Club.

About 50 percent of the state’s surface is impervious to water, which means that rain water flows off the surface, rather than soaking into the ground water supply. Some causes are obvious: roofs, walkways, roads, parking lots, and channelized streams and rivers in densely developed areas. But, surprisingly, a major cause of imperviousness is parks and lawns, whose porosity can be so adversely impacted by foot traffic that up to 90 percent of the rain water flows across the grass as “sheet runoff” and flows directly into storm drains and streams.

To help reduce this runoff problem, homeowners, residential and commercial developers, and municipal officials are being encouraged to develop what are called “rain gardens” to recharge ground water supplies, reduce erosion and habitat destruction, and control stream and river flooding. Rain gardens, man-made or natural depressions in the ground that are planted with native trees, plants and flowers, mimic the natural absorption and pollutant-filtering activities of a forest. In particular, municipalities are being encouraged to develop rain gardens -- areas designed to have minimum foot traffic -- on municipal lands, parks and school property to increase their water-absorbing capacities.

William Sciarappa, head of the County Extension Department and County Agricultural Agent, will explain how rain gardens work and discuss his department’s goal to develop about 1,500 rain gardens in Monmouth County. He will be followed by Thomas E. Matulewicz of the Monmouth County Master Gardeners, who will explain how that group helps design rain gardens. Then professional landscaper Laurel Von Gerichten, a certified landscape designer with her own company, Laurelbrook Design, will explain how homeowners can economically create rain gardens while enhancing the “curb appeal” of their homes. In addition, Faith Tietlebaum will report on the cleanup efforts of one very large “rain garden,” the Whale Pond watershed in Monmouth County.  

The general meeting of NJF Clearwater and Sierra is hosted by the college’s Science Field Station at Sandy Hook. The two clubs meet at the Lincroft campus to share speakers and involve environmentally concerned college students.  A buffet will be available for college students and adults at 6:00 p.m. Contributions from non-students are encouraged to defray the costs. The general meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.

To get to Brookdale, take Parkway Exit 109 to Route 520 West (Newman Springs Road, which becomes E. Main Street at the Lincroft campus). Take the traffic circle into the campus and follow the signs to the Warner Student Life Center (SLC), where the meeting will be in the Twin Lights 1 Room. Use parking lot 7.  As you walk towards the building complex, Warner will be on your left. If lot 7 is full, use parking lots 5 or 6. A campus map is at http://www.brookdalecc.edu/PDFFiles/MAPS/MAP_04_08.pdf .