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(11/P89) TRENTON * Department of Environmental Protection Assistant Commissioner Drainco-9 Wolf Skacel joined Camden Mayor Dana L. Redd and other local officials today in dedicating a new rain garden at the site of an abandoned gas station, transforming the unsightly land into an attractive and ecologically functional asset at a key gateway to the Waterfront South neighborhood.

"The DEP is extremely proud to make a difference in this neighborhood by helping clean up this site and transform it into a rain garden that will serve many important

functions * controlling flooding, cleansing stormwater before it enters the ground, and serving as an attractive gateway to the Waterfront South neighborhood," said Skacel, Assistant Commissioner for Compliance and Enforcement.

"The addition of this rain garden, and others that are being planted across the City, truly help make Camden a cleaner, greener, and more beautiful City," Mayor Redd said.  "I thank the DEP and all our stakeholders for their continued support and commitment in moving Camden forward." 

Located at South Broadway and Chelton Avenue, the abandoned gas station had been a blemish on the neighborhood for nearly 20 years. Now the site is an attractive, park-like area planted with trees, shrubs and grasses that collects stormwater runoff, allowing it to filter back into the ground rather than the Delaware River or going to the local sewage treatment plant. 

Stormwater is often contaminated with gasoline, motor oil, and other motor vehicle fluids as well as other pollutants. Plantings of native plants, scrub and trees help cleanse the water as it seeps into the ground, while providing habitat for birds and butterflies. The rain garden is designed with walkways to encourage use by people. 

This project, encompassing about a half-acre of land, is part of a broader joint initiative between the city and DEP to address stormwater problems in Camden that includes construction of 40 rain gardens throughout the city. 

Riché S. Outlaw and John Gray, co-coordinators of the DEP's Environmental Justice Program, were among the DEP officials to join in the dedication ceremonies.

"The DEP is committed to helping Camden and all of New Jersey's urban areas deal with their environmental problems," said Outlaw. "We are working closely with officials in our cities to address past environmental problems and work toward a healthier future by preserving open space, revitalizing brownfields and redeveloping in a manner that improves the quality of life for our residents."

The DEP worked in close partnership with the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority and city stakeholders, led by the Heart of Camden civic group, to remediate the gas station site and build the rain garden. The project was made possible by a settlement with the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority stemming from past odor violations at its nearby sewage treatment plant.

"This new rain garden park is really a great story in which the DEP, the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, the city, Heart of Camden, Rutgers University, the New Jersey Tree Foundation and Cooper's Ferry Development Association have partnered together to bring a beautiful new park to the residents of Camden," said CCMUA Executive Director Andrew Kricun. "This is a great example of cooperative work among government, educational institutions and non-profit groups to make a positive difference for the environment and the public."

The DEP worked closely with the stakeholders to remove 12 underground storage tanks, remove 1,850 tons of contaminated soil and treat contaminated groundwater. 

The rain garden is designed to manage about a million gallons of stormwater per year.

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