CAMDEN, N.J. – Jersey Water Works members Andy Kricun, Meishka Mitchell, Chris Obropta, and the rest of the Camden SMART (Stormwater Management and Resource Training) team have been awarded the US Water Alliance’s US Water Prize for their work tackling the city’s extreme water challenges.
The US Water Prize “celebrates outstanding achievement in the advancement of sustainable, integrated, and inclusive solutions to our nation’s water challenges. It is the preeminent national recognition program for exemplary efforts to secure a sustainable water future for all.”
A coalition of six entities – Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, the City of Camden, Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program, New Jersey Tree Foundation, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection – the Camden SMART Initiative is a community-driven movement with goals of protecting health, improving conditions for economic development, and improving water quality.
The Initiative’s work continues to enhance the quality of life for residents of the city and the nearby Delaware River watershed through the broad use of green and gray infrastructure techniques for stormwater management. Through investing in the city, hosting workshops and volunteer events, and educating Camden youth on local water issues and environmentally focused careers, Camden SMART is cultivating tomorrow’s environmental leaders and making community engagement for Camden residents the norm.
Utilizing a collaborative “collective impact” approach to partnership, the Camden SMART Initiative has constructed 49 green infrastructure projects throughout the city to date. These installations capture, treat, and infiltrate more than 60 millions gallons of stormwater each year that would otherwise contribute to overflows of the combined sewer system into the city’s streets, parks, homes, and waterways.
Since its founding in 2011, Camden SMART has reconstructed 8,522 linear feet of failing sewer lines; distributed 223 rain barrels to Camden residents through training workshops; planted 1,458 trees to slow stormwater runoff; engaged and educated 4,000 community members through outreach efforts; hosted 33 sustainability events and workshops; and collaborated with more than 40 project partners in the development of green infrastructure projects and programs.
“Efforts led by the Camden SMART Initiative have made an immense difference in many neighborhoods, and have significantly reduced the impact of stormwater while planning for the future in a more coordinated and comprehensive way,” Maggie McCann Johns, Camden County director of parks, said.
“We are so excited that Camden SMART has been recognized by the US Water Alliance for their outstanding efforts to improve their city. They are showing all New Jersey municipalities that tackling water infrastructure and stormwater problems can have multiple benefits for the community,” Jane Kenny, Jersey Water Works co-chair, said.