Whippany River Watershed Action Committee
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The Whippany River Watershed Action Committee (WRWAC) is a member-based, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, which identifies and implements projects to preserve and protect water and the surrounding natural areas. The Whippany River Watershed is an area of 69.3 square miles within Morris County in north central New Jersey. The 16-mile long Whippany River serves the only significant unconsolidated aquifer (the Buried Valley Aquifer system) in northern New Jersey and is a source of drinking water for more than 1 million people.
With support from member municipalities, the Morris County Freeholders, individuals, civic and business partners, and conservation groups, the committee is involved with watershed management. WRWAC works with member volunteers on goose damage management, river clean-ups, lake shores and river plantings, retention and detention basins, and water samplings. WRWAC has completed projects to improve the quality of the watershed such as pollution control and management, pond restoration, stormwater runoff, river assessment, and sanitary water surveys.
- The Whippany River Watershed Action Committee's members are the stewards of the Whippany River Watershed. The members have come together to preserve, protect and maintain the land and water resources of the watershed through broad-based community action, projects, on-going assessment, education and promotion of resource conservation.
According to Art Vespignani, WRWAC's facilitator, "The WRWAC’s mission is to preserve, protect and maintain the land and water of the Whippany River Watershed".
In 1998, WRWAC began as the Mayors Action Committee. Eventually, it evolved into the current 501c(3) not for profit WRWAC. Over the years, WRWAC has received several grants and partnered with entities such as the NJDEP, Rutgers University, Pfizer, and Victoria Foundation.
The State of New Jersey assigned responsibility for implementing the Whippany River Watershed Management Plan to WRWAC’s Action Committee in 2000. On September 16, 2009, WRWAC celebrated its 10th anniversary. It celebrated its 15th anniversary on September 3, 2014.
WRWAC consists of an Action Committee, Executive Committee, Program Subcommittee, Outreach Subcommittee, and Membership Subcommittee.
The Board of Trustees is composed of the following member municipalities, which are represented by their appointees:
- East Hanover Township
- Florham Park
- Hanover Township
- Mendham Borough
- Mendham Township
- Morris Plains
- Morris Township
- Mountain Lakes
- Parsippany-Troy Hills
Additional members include:
- Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders
- Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Morris County
- Trout Unlimited
- Morris County Soil Conservation District
- Morris County Department of Planning and Development
- Morris County Mosquito Extermination Commission
- Morris County MUA
- Morris County Park Commission
- AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassador WMA6
In 2001, the EPA bestowed the Environmental Quality Award on WRWAC. The following year, the NJDEP issued its Environmental Excellence Award to WRWAC. WRWAC received another NJDEP Environmental Excellence Award in November 2013, which it received in the Water Resources Category for implementation of clean water best management practices funded by a 319(h) grant.
WRWAC received the 2015 Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority’s Environmental Excellence Award under "Working Together for a Healthy Whippany River" for its role in producing the documentary River's Journey.
Since its inception, WRWAC has been involved in numerous projects designed to preserve, protect, and maintain the watershed. The following constitute a sample of those projects.
- In 1995, WRWAC worked in conjunction with the Morris County SCD in developing a Whippany River Sediment Control Plan.
- In 2000, WRWAC spearheaded the phase one design and construction of streamside restoration for Bryant's Stream/Atno Brook and continued with phase two in 2001.
- In 2008, WRWAC, in partnership with the Rutgers Water Resources Program, assisted with the Troy Brook Regional Stormwater Management Plan Implementation.
- In 2014, WRWAC partnered with Hanover Township to develop a Stream Bank Stabilization Design for the Whippany River at the Whippany Burying Grounds; a historic cemetery established in 1718.
- In December 2014, WRWAC received a 3M Eco Grant to construct a student outdoor environmental learning project at Memorial Junior School in Hanover Township, New Jersey. WRWAC will work in conjunction with the Rutgers University Cooperative Extension to install a series of rain gardens in the courtyard area of the school and to develop in-service teacher training and educational modules for student curriculums.
- In 2015, WRWAC and the Bethel AME Church hosted the fourth annual clean-up of the Whippany River along Spring Street in Morristown, New Jersey.
Whippany River documentary
In May 2014, it was announced that WRWAC, in conjunction with Hanover Township and sponsors, such as Bayer HealthCare, hired Oscar-nominated producer-director Glenn Silber to create a documentary on the Whippany River. The documentary will concentrate on the clean-up of the Whippany River over the years. Art Vespignani (WRWAC's facilitator) has stated that "[t]he documentary will focus on the threats to and solutions for the Whippany River during the past 50 years". According to Silber, the documentary presents an "opportunity to raise awareness about saving water and tell a positive story about community involvement".
The 32-minute documentary, entitled River’s Journey, focuses on the river's clean-up over the years through the collaborative efforts of government, business, volunteer organizations, and the community at large. It incorporates stories of the river told by longtime residents and illustrates current-day efforts to maintain and preserve the river. WRWAC hopes to use the documentary in schools to spread awareness of environmental preservation.
- NJDEP."Report on the Establishment of a Total Maximum Daily Load for Fecal Coliform and an Interim Total Phosphorus Reduction Plan for the Whippany River Watershed", New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Agency, New Jersey, 1999.
- Park, Andrea. "Green Light: A Tour of Latest Eco-Friendly Projects", Parsippany Patch New Jersey, 13 June 2011.
- "Watershed holds goose workshop", Independent Press, New Jersey, 25 March 2010.
- Forest, Cindy. "Funds pour in for Whippany River Watershed Action Committee", Parsippany Life, New Jersey, 18 February 2011.
- Frank, Al. "Study of the Whippany finds rain washes away watershed's gains", The Star-Ledger, New Jersey, 2003. Retrieved on 10 January 2012.
- Obropta, Ph.D., P.E., Christopher. "Troy Brook Watershed 2008 BMP Implementation Plan", Rutgers University, New Jersey, 10 May 2007.
- Branson, Ken. "A Stealth River in Morris County", Skylands Visitor New Jersey.
- Coughlin, Kevin. "Study to seek flood remedies in Morristown's second ward", Morristown Green,Morristown, 21 November 2011.
- Daigle, Michael. "Watershed Study Sounds Alarm: We Could Lose Lake Speedwell", Daily Record, New Jersey, 3 March 2006.
- "EPA Administrator Christie Whitman Honor Environmental Achievements in New Jersey", United States Environmental Protection Agency, 16 April 2001. Retrieved on 10 January 2012.
- "Section 319 (h)NPS Grant Speedwell Lake at the Whippany River Shoreline Restoration Project", New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Agency, 23 February 2011. Retrieved on 10 January 2012.
- "Main Page for Whippany River Watershed Action Committee". Whippany River Watershed Action Committee. Retrieved 2015-04-30.
- “Do You Have A Whippany River Story To Tell?”, “Hanover Township”, June 2014. Retrieved on July 5, 2014.
- “Whippany River: A Holistic Approach to Volunteer Monitoring”, WRWAC, circa 2010. Retrieved July 5, 2014.
- “History of the Committee”, WRWAC.org. Retrieved on July 5, 2014.
- McComber, Deborah. "River group celebrates watershed moment at Morristown's Willow Hall". Morristown Green. Star Ledger. Retrieved September 28, 2009.
- “Calendar”, WRWAC.org. Retrieved on July 5, 2014.
- "Members Page for Whippany River Watershed Action Committee". Whippany River Watershed Action Committee. Retrieved 2015-04-30.
- "Visitations for the Whippany Watershed – 2010/2011 Annual Report", Accessed on June 22, 2014.
- “Whippany River Watershed Action Committee, About Us”, Accessed on June 22, 2014.
- "Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority Celebrates Environmental Excellence". Retrieved May 7, 2015.
- "WRWAC, Projects," Accessed on April 30, 2015
- “Whippany River, TMDL to address fecal coliform in the Whippany River Watershed” (2008)
- “Stream Bank Stabilization Design for the Whippany River at the Whippany Burying Grounds Southeast of the Intersection of Troy Hills Road and State Route 10” (Jan. 2014)
- "Connecting Students with Nature / 3M News / United States", Accessed on February 15, 2015
- "WRWAC Press Release", Accessed on February 15, 2015
- Wright, Peggy. "Helping the Whippany River flow free of trash". Daily Record. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
- "Kevin Coughlin, Got a Whippany River Story? A Documentary Maker Wants To Meet You", dated May 28, 2014.
- “Acclaimed TV producer creating documentary on cleanup of Whippany River”, dated June 16, 2014.
- "Documentary on Whippany River cleanup to make its debut at film fest Saturday", The Star-Ledger, New Jersey, 2014, Retrieved on 15 February 2015.
- "Eco-friendly projects showcased". The Record. May 26, 2011. Retrieved January 10, 2012.