Green Infrastructure

Our landscapes are being permanently altered by the continuous creep of parking lots, rooftops, roadways and other hard surfaces that are impervious to water. When these impervious surfaces reach critical mass, the water cycle is fundamentally altered and polluted stormwater runoff severely degrades our waterbodies. Supplementing our towns’ existing infrastructure with a new kind of “green infrastructure” can help reduce pollution and flooding and improve the condition of our groundwater aquifers.

Stormwater running off impervious surfaces picks up a host of pollutants, including pesticides and fertilizers we spread on our lawns, petroleum and antifreeze that spill from our cars, leaks from failing septic systems and broken sewer pipes, waste from our pets, soap from washing our cars, road salt we spread on our driveways and sidewalks, to name just a few.

When it rains in watersheds with large amounts of impervious cover, less water infiltrates into the ground and is transferred to the atmosphere through evapotranspiration, while more water runs off the land’s surface.

When it rains, this witches brew of pollutants wash over our lawns, driveways, parking lots and streets as “polluted stormwater runoff.” In most cases, the polluted runoff flows into storm drains, then through a series of subterranean pipes that carry the runoff directly to local streams. For most of us, these polluted streams are a source of our drinking water.

Green Infrastructure is an approach to managing stormwater that uses plants, soil, gravel, and certain engineered materials to filter, cleanse, absorb, store, and delay the release of runoff after a rain event. Examples include rain gardens, vegetated swales, green roofs, cisterns, porous pavement, and rain barrels.

We’ve deployed several Green Infrastructure strategies at the Watershed Center.  Runoff from portions of the roof is directed to rain gardens that capture and filter the water and allow it to percolate into the ground. A green roof on another wing of the building, slows down and removes water through evaporation and transpiration of plants. We capture runoff from yet another portion of roof into a large cistern and use it to flush toilets.

We are eager to work with municipal governments, businesses, schools, civic centers, and others to help replicate what we’ve done at the Watershed Center in other locations around our region.

With funding support from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Watershed is working in 16 central New Jersey towns to deploy Green Infrastructure to address the triple threat of water pollution, flooding, and reduced groundwater recharge. We’re collaborating with Rutgers University, which is working in other towns in the state under a similar grant.


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When: Wednesday, June 19, 2019 | 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Where: The Watershed Institute (31 Titus Mill Rd., Pennington, NJ) Cost:  Free (lunch included) {{ vc_btn:title=%3Cstrong%3ERegister+for+the+Symposium%3C%2Fstrong%3E&color=success&size=lg&align=center&add_icon=true& ...
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Join us for our 3rd Annual NJ Watershed Conference! For those interested in speaking at the conference, the call for proposals is now open.


Did you know that 2018 marked the wettest year on record in New Jersey since record-keeping began in 1895? New Jersey received more than 64 inches of precipitation last year, a whopping 18 inches higher than normal.


The 2nd Annual New Jersey Watershed Conference brings stakeholders together on clean water issues.


The Watershed Institute is collaborating on a two-day Green Infrastructure Certification with the Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional organization.


On Monday, October 22nd, the Assembly Telecommunication and Utilities Committee will be considering stormwater utilities authorizing legislation.

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Watershed conference explores new tool to combat flooding and water pollution at recent conference.


Join us on Nov. 2, 2018 for the New Jersey Watershed Conference. Improve your knowledge on issues related to water quality and quantity across the state

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The Watershed Institute and NJ Spotlight are bringing experts to discuss stormwater utilities with elected officials and others involved in stormwater management.


Hard surfaces like asphalt, concrete, and rooftops mean there is less room for rainfall and snowmelt to soak into the ground.


The Princeton Parklet opened Saturday, featuring live music, free ice cream and displays of rain barrels and green roofs by The Watershed Institute.


Stormwater utilities, a tool for managing flooding and water pollution, are gaining prominence in NJ as a better way to capture rain and fix old stormwater systems while benefiting homeowners and …

Downspout Planter-Stone

Downspout planters are landscaped planter boxes that capture rain water from the roof and function in a similar way as a rain garden but instead within a container.

Rain garden at Watershed Center

A simple rain garden may look like a flower garden to the untrained eye, but these rain gardens serve the important role of absorbing 30% more water than the same size area of traditional lawn.

Princeton University Green Roof

Green roofs provide aesthetic, environmental, and economic benefits.


Two grants recently announced by the state Department of Environmental Protection will bolster key efforts by the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association to monitor and improve water quality…

stream erosion

When rain falls on our roofs, streets, and parking lots, the subsequent water cannot soak into the ground and becomes stormwater runoff.

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Thirteen teenagers recently explored sustainable design and green architecture at the Watershed Center, each creating a 12-square-foot building…

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From learning about rain barrels to GIS mapping, teenagers in the Watershed Science & Stewardship Academy assessed the health of the Stony Brook by measuring its nutrients …

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The new stormwater ordinance introduced by the Princeton Council will help address flooding problems and reduce the amount of pollution discharged into…


“This bill seeks to rush approval by undermining environmental agency review and trampling over states’ rights,” said Jim Waltman

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NJDEP is renewing municipal stormwater permits for the first time in over a decade but is not incorporating technology that could improve water quality

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As we built our communities with more and more concrete, asphalt and buildings, the need to address stormwater arose. Our thinking on how to address stormwater has evolved over the years.