Sidney Brook Watershed Protection Study Underway
Sidney Brook is a tributary to the South Branch Raritan River with a watershed drainage area of 5.5 square miles that spans much of southern Union Township and the northern portion of Franklin Township. The Sidney Brook Watershed Protection Plan has been developed to address vulnerable areas in the watershed and develop a series of recommended actions to maintain the ecological integrity of Sidney Brook. The Plan is funded by a federal grant for $237,361 provided by the USEPA under the Clean Water Act 319(h) to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Division of Watershed Management.
During the next few months, members of the Union and Franklin Township Environmental Commissions, along with their project partners, the New Jersey Water Supply Authority (NJWSA) and their subcontractor, Princeton Hydro, LLC, will be hiking the stream and its tributaries to perform visual assessments and sample water quality, sediments and stream biology.
Over 200 Union and Franklin Township residents received letters in January, 2008 informing them of these upcoming activities and seeking permission to allow the project contractors to walk the streams. Their cooperation and help with this study is greatly appreciated. The Union Township Environmental Commission (UTEC) will host an information session for local residents on Tuesday, March 11 at 7:00 pm at the Union Township Municipal Building to discuss the upcoming field work. Please feel free to contact Bill Harclerode, UTEC Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
April 17, 2007 Union Twp Hunterdon County Web/Press Release – Environmental Commission.
Sidney Brook Watershed Protection Plan
The Union Township Town Council and the Environmental Commission are hosting an information session for local residents on May 8th at 7:00 PM at the Union Township Municipal Building to discuss the upcoming work for Sidney Brook. This initial community meeting will explain the grant recently received by Union Township from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), Division of Watershed Management to assess Sidney Brook and create a Watershed Protection Plan for the stream. The partners on the grant include Union Township, Franklin Township, the NJDEP, the South Branch Watershed Association (SBWA), the New Jersey Water Supply Authority (NJWSA), and Princeton Hydro will serve as the environmental consulting firm for the project.
Sidney Brook is a tributary to the South Branch Raritan River with a watershed drainage area of 5.5 square miles that spans much of southern Union Township and the northern portion of Franklin Township. In 2003, the NJDEP designated Sidney Brook as a Category One (C1) stream, receiving the highest level of state protection. This requires 300 foot buffers along the stream and protects the stream from any measurable changes to the water quality. Currently, there is little data available for Sidney Brook, and increasing development pressures in the region could be affecting stream. Therefore, the grant will include the analysis of water samples and the assessment of potential impacts to the stream, its tributaries, local land uses, and features such as wetlands, stream bank erosion sites, and aquatic and wildlife habitats. The Grant partners and volunteers from the Environmental Commission will be hiking the stream and its tributaries in the upcoming months to perform this work.
The Sidney Brook watershed contains exceptional natural resources and wildlife habitats for the wood turtle and bog turtle, listed by NJDEP as threatened and endangered species. The watershed also includes a mix of land uses including farmlands, housing, commercial tracts, forests, and wetlands. Sections of the watershed lie within the Highlands Preservation Area, the Highlands Planning Area, and areas outside of the Highlands designations. These designations can affect zoning and potential development plans.
The Sidney Brook grant for $237,361 is provided to the NJDEP under the federal 319(h) watershed program. The project will address vulnerable areas in the watershed and develop a series of recommended actions to maintain the ecological integrity of Sidney Brook, including educating the local residents about the sensitive nature of the stream. In addition, the Protection Plan will also outline recommendations to help guide planning and future development actions throughout the watershed. Union Township will provide the necessary 25% funding match through in-kind services provided by the Township officials, staff and volunteer board members. The goal of the Sidney Brook Watershed Protection Plan is to protect valuable natural resources that are dwindling in New Jersey