Interview by April Callahan, Rutgers Raritan Scholar
Doriann Kerber is Councilwoman for the Borough of Milltown, NJ, and serves as Treasurer for the Middlesex County Water Resources Association. She is also active with Jersey Water Works, and with the Milltown and East Brunswick Green Teams. She took time out of her busy schedule for an interview about Green Infrastructure outreach in the watershed, and her vision for improving environmental education to benefit the health of our watershed communities.
AC: Where are you
from in the Lower Raritan Watershed? In your time here, how have you engaged in
and explored the area?
DK: I am from Milltown and we have a sub-watershed, Lawrence
Brook Watershed, that I enjoy exploring. In 2014 I volunteered to be on the
Middlesex Water Resources Association and I heard about the Lower Raritan
Watershed Partnership. I feel strongly about cleaning up the waterways just
like anyone else in my town, and feel that we should all take part in caring
for our waterways. I got involved with the LRWP to do just that.
AC: What, in your
opinion, are the primary issues that need to be addressed in the watershed?
DK: Continuous cleanups are important for all areas of the
watershed. Every town in the watershed should have annual clean-ups! And
education/outreach is so important. We need folks to understand that the land
use choices they make, that their consumption and disposal choices affect their
water and environment. If they want cleaner water and a better quality of life,
then they need to make good choices and help take care of our waterways.
AC: What is your
vision for the LRWP?
DK: I will be assisting with cleanups, but also helping with
outreach events. I want the organization to get more media coverage, more speaking
engagements, and attract more people from all walks of life to enjoy bicycling,
walking, our natural spaces.
AC: I understand you
are training with Rutgers Cooperative Extension to deliver Green Infrastructure
outreach for area municipalities. Can you tell me more about that?
DK: Rutgers Cooperative Extension offers a “Green
Infrastructure Champion” training Program, which I went through. This training allows
me to be able to assess green infrastructure in towns and municipalities. For
example, I met with the General Manager of the Brunswick Square Mall to discuss
stormwater management improvements that will also make the area more
attractive. I have training to assist four different groups: resident,
commercial, government and nonprofit. In addition to working in Milltown and
East Brunswick I can work throughout Middlesex County and the Lower Raritan
AC: What do you see
as the most important actions Town Council members can take in their home
communities to improve overall watershed health?
DK: Environmental education and outreach is so important. We
need Town Councils to show how everybody plays a part in improving watershed
health, and give them the tools and know-how to make a difference. It’s not
just the town, or the water treatment center, or the wastewater treatment
center that is responsible for water management. Everybody plays a role!
AC: Is there anything
else you would like to add?
DK: I think the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership has
really grown in the last four years. I want it to be recognized throughout the
county and throughout the state, and hope that the work we do will get more
people involved in their local watersheds.
Infrastructure Week has finally arrived! We’ve been waiting for this all year. (No, really!)
Infrastructure Week, May 13 thru 20, is dedicated to understanding the importance of good infrastructure to our public health, quality of life, ability to cook our food, power our devices, get to work. Investment in infrastructure is an investment in our economic future.
Power companies are busy making investments in upgrading the electric grid to be ready for future growth, and developing new sources of energy to meet the challenges of climate change. Anyone who has been for a drive along New Jersey’s roads, or a ride on NJ Transit, is well aware of the need for new investment in our transportation systems. New Jersey has established ways to pay for necessary energy and transportation improvements.
There is one more important category that is often forgotten when we talk about infrastructure — our water systems. Most of us take for granted when we turn on the tap we get safe, clean water, and when we flush the toilet our wastewater is carried safely to a treatment plant. Infrastructure Week is a good opportunity for us to remind ourselves this does not happen without investment. Here are five ways to learn more about the importance of your water systems:
• Tour a sewage treatment plant. This is not as gross as it sounds! On Thursday, May 16, Jersey Water Works, the statewide coalition dedicated to upgrading our water infrastructure systems, is hosting a tour of the Asbury Park wastewater treatment plant. Meet at the plant, 1700 Kingsley St., Asbury Park, at 3:00 pm. The tour lasts about 90 minutes. It’s free and registration is required. Bonus: Networking happy hour afterwards at Anchor’s Bend Brewery, in the arcade at the Asbury Park Convention Center.
• Learn about green infrastructure. Green infrastructure is a more holistic way for towns to manage rainfall than just letting it run into storm sewers. The smart-growth policy nonprofit New Jersey Future is hosting a workshop in Evesham on Tuesday, May 14, from 6 to 8 pm, to introduce a toolkit they have developed to help towns make better use of this technique. The event is free and registration is required.
• Learn how your town can pay for better water infrastructure. Jersey Water Works and New Jersey Future have developed a guide to help towns and utilities applying to the state for money to improve water systems, and especially for financing green infrastructure initiatives. They’re sponsoring a public workshop on Thursday, May 16, from 10 a.m. to noon at the offices of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, 1085 Raymond Blvd., Newark, to explain the process and how to use the guide. The workshop is free and registration is required.