March 2016
"The care of rivers is not a question of rivers, but of the human heart."

-- Tanako Shozo 
Three Reasons Why a Rain Barrel Should Be Your Next Home Improvement Project
Credit: Flickr: LuckyWhiteGirl

A rain barrel preserves water by collecting the rain from a home's downspout. Typically, rain barrels hold between 50-55 gallons of water and are made from recycled plastics or re-purposed food-grade containers. They are fitted with special screens to prevent insects, like mosquitoes, from using the standing water to breed. (Already interested in getting a rain barrel? You can build one at our March 15 workshop!

So, what's so special about these barrels?

1. They reduce stormwater runoff. Impervious surfaces, like roofs and driveways, don't absorb stormwater. Instead, the water flows downhill, where it picks up pollutants like fertilizers, oil from cars, and other harmful substances on its way to streams and rivers.  If every GSWA member installed a rain barrel, approximately 93,500 gallons of water would be conserved every time it rained. 

Think you know the other two?
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What We Can Learn from Flint's Water Crisis
Credit: Flickr: tico_24

What happened in Flint was a tragedy, but it wasn't unique. While this was an exceptional case of corruption and scandal, the presence of lead in drinking water is an issue that has occurred numerous times before, including in New Jersey.

Your water provider, if your water is not supplied by a private well, is responsible for testing for a whole suite of parameters (the requirements are even more stringent than bottled water) and alerting you if there is an issue. They test the water at the treatment plant and at a few sample locations within their distribution range. They are not responsible, however, for what happens to the water once it leaves the water main. Nearly all homes built prior to the 1980's have lead pipes or lead solder. While the water provided to you has a neutral pH to mitigate pipe corrosion, it is still possible for these substances to leech into your drinking water.

If your water is supplied by a well, you are the only person responsible for monitoring its quality. Going years between tests leaves you and your family vulnerable to whatever contaminants may be seeping into your well, especially if your home was built prior to 1980.

GSWA has expanded its well water testing program this March to include lead testing for citizens who rely on public water supply. If you're interested in participating in GSWA's discounted water testing program this year, you can find more information here.

Around the Watershed 
Interested in learning more about the fascinating Passaic River?

Then you won't want to miss author Mary Bruno when she comes to our area for a series of talks and selected readings from her novel "An American River: From Paradise to Superfund, Afloat on New Jersey's Passaic River."

This program is being offered at multiple locations:

March 3, 7:00PM - 8:30PM 
Washington Headquarters 
30 Washington Place, Morristown
Registration required. 
March 8, 7:00PM - 8:30PM 
Mendham Township Library 
2 W. Main Street, Brookside
Register by emailing

March 10, 7:00PM - 8:30PM 
Lambert Castle 
3 Valley Road, Paterson  
Registration is not required.

Predation in Local Ponds?

During almost all 5 weeks of our summer 2015 E. coli monitoring program (except after the heaviest rain) we saw much lower E. coli levels in or just downstream from ponds when compared with upstream from ponds or in moving streams.  While we can't say for sure why this is, we hypothesize that it could be due to predation of the E. coli by heterotrophic flagellates, a type of plankton that feed on bacteria. We saw this pattern in ponds of varying water quality, including Kitchell Pond (in Morris Township along Loantaka Brook), Bayne Pond (in Harding, along Bayne Brook, a Great Brook tributary), Foote's Pond (in Morristown along Great Brook), and Branta Pond (in Basking Ridge flowing into the Passaic River).
Did you know? 
Credit: Flickr: Jinterwas 
Trying to Catch the Two Red Eyes 
By GSWA Volunteer, Jim Northrop 
At age 14, I was living in a suburb of Rochester, New York.  A friendly neighbor took an interest in me and in another boy on our street.  One day the neighbor asked our parents if he could take us raccoon hunting.  He had grown up in the Finger Lakes region and had experience at "coon" hunting.  He wanted to introduce the sport to us, he told our parents, and they agreed.

The neighbor told us we needed sturdy waterproof boots, a warm jacket and a flashlight.  That surprised us because it told us this would be a nighttime hike.  Our neighbor, Mr. Johnson, said he would meet us at 6:00 p.m. on the appointed day, and that we would drive down to an area outside Naples, New York, about 45 minutes south.  We would begin our hunt at a wooded area nearby, where Mr. Johnson had successfully hunted raccoons... (Read More) 
GSWA & the Care2Share Program
Care2Share Ad Graphic

Do you already bank with investors? Sign up for their Care2Share program!

Investors Bank supports GSWA by providing regular donations through its Care2Share program. It's totally free, and with a little help from you and your family, friends, and neighbors, we can grow those donations into something special: special in a way that helps all of our environmental stewardship, education, and advocacy programs!
How does it work?
The Care2Share program allows you to link your personal deposit account at Investors to GSWA. On a regular basis, Investors looks at the number of accounts linked to us, calculates the average balance in those accounts, and makes a donation to us equal to a percentage of that average balance. It doesn't cost you a cent, and your favorite charity get an important financial boost!

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Upcoming Events
Build Your Own Rain Barrel, 3/15

6PM-8PM. Why should you get a rain barrel? Use a barrel to capture and store the rain running through your home's downspout and you'll routinely have 55 gallons of free water to use around your property. GSWA and Green Mojo Eco Consulting will help you build your own water-saving rain barrel. Using a recycled, food-grade barrel and a spigot adapter kit, we will walk you through the simple construction process. Each registered participant will leave with the workshop with their very own handcrafted rain barrel that is ready to be hooked up to a household downspout. Cost: $80. Registration required.

Please click the Register Now! button for location information.
Spring Begins Hike, 3/20

10AM. There's no better way to celebrate the first day of spring than to get outside and explore. The vernal pools will be full of life as you walk through this new trail at the refuge. Join GSWA's Dan Ross as he guides you in identifying the first signs of spring - skunk cabbages peaking through the snow, new buds forming on trees, and spring migrants returning from their winter destinations. Although it may feel as though winter will be with us forever, these signs of spring will be sure to brighten your day. Registration Required.

Please click the Register Now! button for location information.
Natural History Hike, 4/2

10AM. Enjoy a spring hike with GSWA's Dan Ross & Park Ranger Eric Olsen. The duo will guide you through all of the important landscape features that soldiers in George Washington's Continental Army would have experienced during the brutal winter of 1779-80. You will learn both the natural and national history of this park. This event is sponsored by Investors Bank, Madison Branch. Registration Required.

Please click the Register Now! button for location information.
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Great Swamp Watershed Association
Protecting our waters and our land for more than 30 years
Street Address: 568 Tempe Wick Road, Morristown, NJ  07960 - Map It!
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 300, New Vernon, NJ  07976 
GSWA Thanks our Generous 2015 Gala Sponsors