New Jersey American Water Partners with NJ Audubon and USFWS to Improve Wildlife Habitat in New Jersey

New Jersey American Water initiated its first habitat restoration project as part of their participation in NJ Audubon's Corporate Stewardship Council. This spectacular event took place on New Jersey American Water property in the Pottersville section of Tewksbury, Hunterdon County. The habitat restoration was focused on improving native understory plant communities in a riparian area along the Lamington River (a Category One Waterway - designated as such for its ecological importance). Ultimately this habitat improvement will benefit migratory birds and other wildlife by providing critical foraging and breeding areas.

Late in 2011 New Jersey American Water entered into a contract with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and New Jersey Audubon through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program and performed extensive invasive non-native vegetation removal and control at the site. Prior to the invasive controls, the site was overrun with non-native invasive vegetation that included common reed, mutiflora rose, Japanese honeysuckle, tartarian honeysuckle and Japanese barberry. These types of non-native vegetation outcompete native plants and in many cases shade out new growth providing little to no benefit to wildlife. On April 12, 2012, over 800 native trees and shrubs were planted at the site by NJ American Water employees, volunteers, and staff from USFWS and NJ Audubon just in time for the spring migration of birds and other wildlife.american water employees and Nj Audubon and USWF staff  planting native trees and shrubs at the Tweksbury site

"The most significant improvement of the property comes as a result of the removal of invasive vegetation allowing the soils at the site to be exposed to thetrout-lilly in bloom sun for the first time in years. This has lead to an explosion of growth by native herbaceous plants seeds lying dormant in the soil.", said NJ Audubon Stewardship Project Director John Parke. "Skunk cabbage, spring beauty, trout lily, dog-tooth violets and cut-leaf toothwort were just some of the native plants we found to be growing on the site where they were not noted the year before. Having these native wildflowers back on the landscape will provide early pollen sources for beneficial insects."

"This project provides a great example of how a corporate landowner can take the initiative to improve wildlife habitat through relatively simple voluntary restoration measures and through partnering.," said Brian Marsh, Private Lands Biologist with USFWS. "The USFWS commends NJ American Water for their interest in partnering to restore wildlife habitat and hopes their efforts will motivate other landowners to perform similar measures."

Photos 028The habitat restoration at the Pottersville facility is also the same location that was recognized by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in 2011 for New Jersey American Water's voluntary and proactive measures taken to go beyond compliance in an effort to improve the environment and ensure a sustainable future, which included a $3 million upgrade of the wastewater facility. “We are committed to delivering innovative and environmental friendly solutions to better serve our customers - whether it is the treatment of wastewater or restoring an environmentally sensitive site. The work we’ve done with NJ Audubon and USFWS at our Pottersville Wastewater Treatment Plant is an example of such commitment,” said Suzanne Chiavari, Vice President of Engineering at New Jersey American Water.