(Cherry Hill, NJ) – The Camden County Freeholder Board has approved an expansive project to improve the water quality of Newton Creek. The project will affect the waterway stretching from Cuthbert Boulevard to the vicinity of the Black Horse Pike, and will primarily remove sediment from the creek and improve natural infrastructure, including riparian buffers to reduce the effect of future sedimentation.
“We are extremely grateful for the expertise of the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority (CCMUA) as they are working with us to design this plan and to ensure that both the process, and the result, are environmentally safe,” said Freeholder Jeff Nash, liaison to the Parks Department. “The project is currently pending approval from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Affairs (NJDEP), but is anticipated to begin in the summer of 2018.”
The Freeholder Board and the CCMUA have been working with the Camden County Soil Conservation District, Delaware Riverkeeper, and the Newton Creek Watershed Association to ensure that the project is environmentally sound. This process has included working with each group to spread information about the steps parkgoers can take to help keep the creek safe and clean for everyone. The groups have also been included in the beginning of the planning phase and will continue to be consulted as the final design is developed.
“The county has hired a nationally renowned consulting engineer to develop the project design, and we are excited about the overall impact that this will have on the creek and the park,” Nash continued. “This project represents a substantial investment in the health of the creek and the continued enjoyment of Camden County’s parks and waterways. Furthermore, this is not just about dredging, but ensuring we are preserving and building-up the banks of the creek, supporting and allowing riparian buffers to grow, and trying to end much of the non-source point pollution that has contributed to the sedimentation of the waterway and spadderdock growth suffocating the creek.”
Sedimentation is a natural process that occurs as soils and other matter collect in the bed of a lake or river. Sediment problems can disrupt drainage systems and other complications for the waterway. The project approved by the freeholders will remove sediment from Newton Creek, and by doing so, improve water access and quality. In addition, improvements planned to stabilize surrounding streambanks and outlays will slow any future sedimentation.
“In order to make this capital project truly worthwhile and an exercise we will not have to do again for a long period of time we are also looking at repairing and addressing outfall pipes, storm drains and educating private property owners throughout the waterway itself,” Nash said. “The issue we are having with sedimentation is occurring in several different places, so it is imperative for the health of the park and creek that we address them at the starting point of the runoff.”
The project will be funded by the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust financing program. The county will then pay back the loans over the course of the next 30 years at a minimal rate.