Cramer Hill Waterfront Park
(Image credit: NJDEP Cramer Hill Waterfront Park video)

In Camden, New Jersey, stormwater and sewage run through the same pipes, so when heavy rain hits, the system can overflow.

“Stormwater mixes with sewage. During storm events, the mixed sewage will go into the river and will go into neighborhoods, homes, parks, schools,” says Frank McLaughlin of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. “It is the most destructive environmental issue in the city of Camden.”

He says one solution is to create green spaces that absorb rain and floodwater, and abandoned industrial areas can be ideal sites. In Camden, many are located along rivers, so cleaning them up and planting vegetation can create valuable waterfront buffers.

For example, in the Cramer Hill neighborhood, an old city dump is now home to a community center, and the adjacent sixty-plus acres will soon be a waterfront park with restored wetlands and lots of trees.

“All the on-site stormwater is sustainably managed on that site,” McLaughlin says, “and not connected to the combined sewer issue that we have in the rest of the city.”

The approach helps the city prepare for more extreme rain, and it will provide a park for residents who have long endured industrial blight.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.