Urban Waters Voices: Passaic River

[Music Playing] Narrator: The Passaic
River is the longest river within New Jersey. The section of the river known as
the Lower Passaic River, the focus of the Urban Waters Federal
Partnership, starts at Dundee Dam in Garfield, New Jersey
and feeds into Newark Bay. The Lower Passaic River was
severely impacted by the early 1900s industrial revolution and
the sediments contained legacy contaminants, such as mercury and
dioxin, making it one of the most polluted rivers in the country. To address these issues, the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers are leading efforts to improve the Lower Passaic River. Lisa Baron: The Lower Passaic River
study location is 17 miles that goes from Newark Bay up to Dundee
Dam and it’s one of the most populated areas in the
state of New Jersey. Narrator: Through the partnership,
many efforts are underway to transform the waterway, including
cleaning up hazardous contamination. Lisa Baron: There was a cleanup,
40,000 cubic yards of dredged material was taken, the
hottest contamination of dioxin. That sediment was removed and
taken off-site for disposal. So that was cleaned up. Narrator: They’ve also worked to
cleanup a location where the dioxin concentration in surface
sediment was especially high. Lisa Baron: They did a dredging
action, EPA worked with the cooperating parties group and
it embarked on cleaning up, removing 16,000 cubic yards of
sediment, of contaminated sediment, and then capping it. So those are two really
big success stories. Narrator: The Lower Passaic River
Urban Waters Federal Partnership is working with underserved
communities in Newark, New Jersey, seeking their involvement to create
a river that communities can use. Lisa Baron: Working with the public
and the municipalities to figure out what is their vision for this
river, we also looked at what do they want to see the river to be. After we have the river cleaned
up, what is it going to look like, what kind of habitat
are we going to restore? Narrator: The future vision is
a healthy watershed with new wetlands, habitats, and riverfront
parks as well as the removal of fish advisories. Lisa Baron: People have talked
about bringing people back to the river and I think those will be
the true successes and I think the local communities and the
organizations that have been involved in the Urban Waters
Federal Partnership, like the Ironbound Community Corporation and
the New York/New Jersey Baykeeper and prepared brochures and conduct
eco-tours and have river rallies and just have those kinds of
activities that are very, very important to bring people back to
the river, to show them and educate them of the history, the broad
history of the Lower Passaic and what the future can be once it’s
cleaned up so that they really have a stake and they really start
to get excited about the future and that vision. And that’s what’s going to be
really, really critical in bringing people back to the river.

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