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Library Rain Garden Will Protect Water, Environmental Group Says

The Environmental Commission hopes to begin installation this spring.

A small rain garden at the Wyckoff Public Library is coming together after the collaborative work of many township volunteers.

The Environmental Commission, in cooperation with the Energy and Buildings Green Team, put together a proposal to install a rain garden to the right of the library’s entrance doors. The proposal was approved by the Library Board Wednesday night.

The rain garden’s purposes are many, according to Green Team members.

“A rain garden is a storm water runoff mediator,” said Wyckoff Environmental Commissioner Catherine Runge. “Storm water eventually enters the water supply and carries pesticides from landscapes and chemicals from roofs.”

“One way to protect our water resources locally is intercepting, treating and infiltrating water at its source,” added Green Team member Julio Diaz who works as a construction manager and has overseen installations of rain gardens. “It reduces the possibility for flooding, decreases pollution and increases flow in waterways.”

Rain gardens are essentially a natural filter to prevent polluted water from getting into storm drains and allow soil and plants to absorb it. This particular rain garden is also an essential piece to the Commission’s desire to get Silver Sustainable New Jersey status. Last year, Wyckoff achieved bronze status in record time with the help of about 70 volunteers, Runge said.

There are several parts to getting the certification, and points are awarded for each improvement to the community.

Under the guidelines of Sustainable New Jersey, the rain garden could be implemented either at a residence or on municipal property.

“We chose the library because this is where all the community will go,” said Runge. ”It is a place that is visible for all.”

The library recommended its potential location, which is far enough from the library entrance to allow children to visit the garden and listen to lectures about sustainable gardening.

The garden, which was designed by Kindergan Landscaping Design, would be 12 feet by 10 feet. It would have perennials and natural plantings native to northern New Jersey. A barrel would collect rain from the library’s roof and go through underground piping directly to the garden. There would also be a sign posted about how to make a rain garden. The sign especially meets the Green Team’s educational requirement.

“The idea is anyone can do it at their own home,” said Diaz, who hopes to install one on his property, as well.

The rain garden is likely to be installed this spring with the majority of work to be conducted by students, scouts and other volunteers. The plants and design will cost money, however, the Commission will fund the work and maintenance. Luckily in the coming years, it won’t need too much attention.

“The garden is sustainable on its own,” said Runge. “Maybe the plants will need to be cut back a little bit every year, but it is designed to maintain itself.”

Runge said the garden wouldn’t have been possible without all the unique talents of the Green Teams’ volunteers.

“To have this level of expertise in the community, with student help, it is part of the community,” said Runge. “It is all encompassing…to be environmentally friendly.”

Diaz said a rain garden would show Wyckoff in a new light.

“It’s a way of putting Wyckoff on the map,” he said, adding that the garden would be a first in Bergen County. “We would establish ourselves as progressive thinkers.”

Have a question or news tip for Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Patch? Contact editor Joseph M. Gerace at Joseph.Gerace@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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