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Peddie School Builds Floating Wetlands at Meadow Lakes

April 29th, 2019

Four small floating wetlands were installed recently at the Meadow Lakes retirement community in East Windsor with the help of about 20 Peddie School students involved in Earth Day activities.

About 400-square-feet of floating wetlands will help tackle the algae growth in Meadow Lakes’ interconnecting lake and ponds and improve the quality of the water without using chemicals.

Joe Greipp, the arboretum director for the Meadow Lakes continuing care retirement community, said these small floating wetlands add to those previously installed in 2017 and 2018.

Steve Tuorto, Ph.D., Director of Science and Stewardship, said the Watershed plans to continue this innovative project until about 1,200-square-feet of floating wetlands are in place.

“We’ve had success in removing pollution with small wetlands and without using chemicals,” he said. “We’re eager to expand our efforts at Meadow Lake and are grateful to the Peddie School for their help.”

The small wetlands are designed to reduce the nutrients in the water – primarily nitrogen and phosphorus. They also decrease the suspended solids and mitigate the loss of dissolved oxygen in the waterways, which will improve the aquatic life in the ponds and lake.

The students and Watershed staff planted about 180 plugs of ninebark, silky dogwood, red twig dogwood, button bush and soft rush plants into the wetlands, which are composed primarily of Poly-Flo filter material and marine foam.

Shani Peretz, chair of the science department and advisor for the school’s environmental club, said the Earth Week activities helped students connect environmentalism to something beyond recycling a container.

“The environmental science and bioremediation of floating wetlands connected well with concepts that we’re trying to teach them. There is more than you can do than just plant a tree,” she said.

The Peddie students helping with the wetlands came from the environmental and robotics clubs, as well as from the track and football teams.

“Additionally, the students don’t necessarily think of career opportunities besides being a lawyer, a doctor or a teacher. No one thinks, ‘I could work to conserve waterways or be a landscape architect.’ Seeing the engaged and passionate Watershed staff may encourage kids to change what they do in their futures.”

Sophomore Peddie students Hanah Lee of New York City and Kaya Gorsline of Flemington, NJ, said they thought “building a wetland is very cool.”

“It seems simple, but it can really impact the people in our community by helping the environment,” Hanah said.

Vijay Shah, 16, from Robbinsville, said, “I think building wetlands is an interesting concept and I would never have thought of something like that.”

Korey Smith, 18, of Madison, VA, said, “I thought it would be good to be out with friends and help the community. I’ve never heard of a floating wetlands before. It is cool to explore how this is done.”

Erin Landis, River-Friendly Coordinator at the Watershed, said the floating wetlands are part of Meadow Lakes’ goal of attaining a River-Friendly Business Certification.

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