Storm Basin Upgrades Coming to Toms River
By years end, eight stormwater detention basins in Ocean County will be renovated in order to remove nutrients before they enter the Barnegat Bay.
“Awarding the contracts for this work is the next step in our continuing process of preserving and protecting Barnegat Bay,” said Freeholder John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety.
The Board of Freeholders is expected to award the projects to four different contractors during the Board’s Feb. 1 meeting. A presentation on the work was given during the Board’s preboard meeting Jan. 25.
“We continue to work in tandem with Governor Christie in his efforts to implement a 10-point plan to improve the health of Barnegat Bay,” said Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little. “The bay is an environmental jewel and a centerpiece for recreation and tourism. We are going to continue our efforts to keep it clean and protect it for generations to come.”
The Board expects to award contracts to Hutton Construction, Cedar Grove, for three of the renovations including the detention basins on Todd Road, Toms River, at a cost of $503,456, Raider Way, Toms River, at a cost of $411,855, and one of the basins at Ocean County College, Toms River, at a cost of $465,570.
In addition, Site Contractors of Hammonton, is scheduled to be awarded the contracts for the detention basins at Sunset Avenue, Toms River, at a cost of $245,622 and Vermont Avenue, Toms River, at a cost of $214,202. The work on the basin at Hoyt Street in Lacey Township is scheduled to be awarded to Thor Construction Group, West Long Branch, at a cost of $223,344, and C. Caruso Excavating, Ocean, is expected to be awarded the contract for renovations to two additional basins at Ocean County College at a cost of $978,978.
“We expect this work to begin shortly after we award the contracts and anticipate all the work to be completed before the end of the year,” Kelly said.
Kelly explained that these renovations are really the next level of stormwater management being required by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
“In the 1970s, basins were designed for flood control. In the 1990s, we began addressing water quality like removing trash and sediments from stormwater. Now this next step deals with nutrient removal,” he said.
Little said renovations to these basins allow the county to focus on the Toms River watershed and the Forked River. The renovations are expected to improve removal of nutrients, in particular 8,000 pounds of nitrogen will be removed annually.
“This work complements the ongoing work we are doing with our Planning Department to help preserve and protect the bay,” Little said. “Several basins have been restored with a method known as subsoiling which helps break up soil compaction and allows for improved recharge of the water. In addition, rain gardens are also helping to keep our waters clean.”
The total cost of the new basins was expected to be about $7.5 million and will be paid for by a combination of grants and low interest loans from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the state Environmental Infrastructure Trust.
“We are very pleased that the bids came in almost $1.8 million under the anticipated cost,” said Kelly, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Engineering Department.
The Freeholders approved fronting the money for the projects under two bonding ordinances introduced at their Oct. 5 meeting.
Ocean County expects to receive $9.1 million from the state. Of that $4.9 million will be grant money and the remainder will be in deferred low interest loans which also provides $1.6 million for the acquisition of a vacuum cleaner/sewer jet truck and three new street sweepers.
“Ocean County appropriated the funds in anticipation of payment from the state,” said Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr. “This is all part of the process and will help advance the work allowing us to complete the renovations by the end of 2012.”
Freeholder James F. Lacey, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Road Department, noted the renovations will be made to basins already located on county property.
“These upgrades will include the installation of a series of perforated pipes, the planting of wetland plants, and ultimately creating manmade wetlands which will help capture the nutrients keeping them from entering the bay ,” Lacey said. “This is the first time this is being done and each location is unique.”
Known as Subsurface Gravel Wetlands, this cutting edge technology will provide enhanced removal of dissolved nitrate by means of denitrification that occurs in the submerged roots of vegetation when air is not present known as an anaerobic condition. Bacterial microbes using sugars from the roots consume dissolved nitrogen converting it to nitrogen gas, which is released into the atmosphere.
When determining which detention basins would be renovated and upgraded, the Ocean County Engineering Department looked for basins that were not in close proximity to residential properties and were a little more remote and providing the proper geotechnical conditions.
“We looked at areas that were not already wetlands nor did they have endangered or threatened species,” Kelly said. “We looked at what had the most potential to remove the most amount of nitrogen and was the most cost effective.”
County Engineer Frank Scarantino said his department working with consultants had to translate a one-acre pilot project conducted by the University of New Hampshire to a much larger scaled project that would provide the best outcome for Ocean County.
“We took this model and translated it to a real life scale,” Scarantino said. “Some of these projects include hundreds of acres of watershed.”
Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, liaison to the Barnegat Bay Partnership, added that taking care of Barnegat Bay continues to be a priority for the Board.
“From the basin renovations to the pumpout boat program to raising awareness and education, the bay has great environmental and recreational value,” he said. “We will continue to do our part to protect and preserve it.”