Raritan Headwaters wins Governor’s Award for ‘River-Friendly’ program

For the second consecutive year, Raritan Headwaters has been honored with a Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence.

Bedminster-based Raritan Headwaters, along with its partners – the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association and the New Jersey Water Supply Authority – won the Governor’s Award for the “River-Friendly” program to protect clean water in the Raritan River Basin.

Representatives of the three groups accepted the award from NJ Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Martin at a ceremony in Trenton on Wednesday, Dec. 7.

“We’re honored and humbled by this award and look forward to continuing our work with schools, businesses and individuals to help keep our streams and groundwater clean for years to come,” said Lauren Theis, RHA’s director of education, who coordinates the River-Friendly program.

The River-Friendly program works one-on-one with residents, businesses, schools and golf courses to improve land stewardship practices and complete challenges to be certified River-Friendly. Participants become more mindful of their impact on water and land by learning about environmental stewardship, reducing pollution, conserving water and restoring wildlife habitat.

To date, the program has worked with hundreds of residents within the 1,100-square-mile Raritan Basin, and is currently working with 13 schools, 16 businesses and seven golf courses to achieve the River-Friendly designation.

Within the North Branch and South Branch watershed, Raritan Headwaters has worked with Far Hills Country Day School, Holland Brook School, Three Bridges School, Whitehouse School, Ethicon, Raritan Valley Community College and J&J ITS, among others, since 2004.

To become certified as River-Friendly, individuals and groups must complete at least 22 actions on a checklist that includes: disposing of household chemicals properly, minimizing winter salt use on driveways and sidewalks, using a compost pile, using non-chemical methods for controlling insects and weeds, having at least one low-flow shower head or toilet, running clothes washers and dishwashers only when full, putting up bird or bat houses on their property, removing invasive plants and planting native species.

Raritan Headwaters is offering several workshops this coming winter and spring to help local residents become River-Friendly, including:

  • Design Your Own Rain Garden on Wednesday, Jan. 18
  • Composting and Soil Health on Wednesday, Feb. 22
  • Rainwater Harvesting on Wednesday, March 22
  • Let’s Get Native! on Wednesday, April 26

For more information on the River-Friendly program and how individuals, schools and businesses can become certified, visit www.njriverfriendly.org or contact Lauren Theis atltheis@raritanheadwaters.org.

About Raritan Headwaters

In 2015, Raritan Headwaters won the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award in the category of Water Resources for:  improving surface or ground water quality, ensuring su­fficient quantities of water through reuse and conservation techniques; and promoting or developing progressive land use policies and watershed management approaches.

The largest watershed organization in New Jersey, Raritan Headwaters has been working since 1959 to protect, preserve and improve water quality and other natural resources of the Raritan River headwaters region through efforts in science, education, advocacy, land preservation and stewardship. RHA’s 470-square-mile region provides clean drinking water to 400,000 residents of 38 municipalities in Somerset, Hunterdon and Morris counties and beyond to some 1.5 million homes and businesses in New Jersey’s densely populated urban areas.

To learn more about Raritan Headwaters and its programs, please visit www.raritanheadwaters.org or call (908)234-1852.