When it comes to stormwater management strategies, there's "smart" and then there's Camden SMART
. The city's progressive strategy -- the acronym stands for "Stormwater Management and Resource Training" -- is a public-private partnership created to grapple with the area's severe flooding issues.
This week, SMART is partnering with the City of Camden to sponsor a series of events in honor of Earth Day 2013. Throughout the week (which runs through April 27), activities will enlist the community to help clean up, rebuild and strategize plans for a more sustainable Camden. Monday, the kick-off took place at Camden City Hall, where Mayor Dana L. Redd led a tree planting in honor of late Camden School Board President Aletha R. Wright.
Then, on Wednesday, April 24 at 10 a.m., folks from SMART are partnering with the Camden Board of Education to plant a rain garden at Pyne Poynt School
, located in the heart of North Camden.
Other activities include a clean-up of Woodrow Wilson High School and Dudley Grange Park (Friday, April 26, 9 a.m. to noon), an environmental movie screening and several neighborhood greening events.
Earth Week is just the latest in a long list of milestones and triumphs for Camden SMART. Since 2011, the program has garnered numerous partners and major stakeholders, including the Coopers Ferry Partnership
, the City of Camden, Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program
, the New Jersey Tree Foundation
and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
In 2012, SMART received the 2012 New Jersey Governor's Environmental Excellence Award, in part for constructing 19 rain gardens throughout the city, an effort that has lead to 1.5 million gallons of stormwater staying out of the sewer system each year.
"Unlike Philadelphia, Camden isn't mandated by the federal government to control our combined-sewer outflows," explains Meishka Mitchell, vice president of the Coopers Ferry Partnership
. "Instead, Camden SMART is a community-led effort to combat the city's serious flooding issues."
To continue its fight against flooding, SMART has a busy agenda for 2013, including more rain gardens, rain barrel systems for residents and separating stormwater pipes from sewer pipes in certain neighborhoods.
"With the city being recently certified through the Sustainable Jersey
program, Camden is becoming recognized as a sustainable city," says Mitchell. "That's important because [stormwater management and environmental stewardship] is a paramount issue facing our city."
: Meishka Mitchell, Vice President, Coopers Ferry Partnership
: Greg Meckstroth