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Expansion of the Floating Treatment Wetland Program for the Paulins Kill Lakes Initiative



























Project Purpose:

To establish a floating treatment wetland pilot program at youth outdoor educational camps in the Paulins Kill Watershed to combat nonpoint source pollutant loading and deter harmful algal bloom (HAB) development within Fairview Lake of Stillwater Township and Bass Lake of Hardwick Township.

Brief Description:

The Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority-Wallkill River Watershed Management Group (SCMUA-WRWMG) has created the “Paulins Kill Lakes Initiative” as a mechanism to encourage various lake communities in the Paulins Kill Watershed to collaborate with one another to 1) discuss shared problems and potential solutions and 2) to implement green infrastructure practices that will manage stormwater runoff entering the lakes and improve Paulins Kill water quality.  Over the past several years, the SCMUA-WRWMG has worked closely with Culver Lake, Kemah Lake, Crandon Lake, Swartswood Lake, Paulins Kill Lake, and Lake Owassa to strengthen the Paulins Kill Lakes Initiative by hosting meetings, organizing webinars, and advocating for greater green infrastructure adoption among residents of the various lake communities, but now the SCMUA-WRWMG staff looks to expand this effort by directly partnering with other lakes within the Paulins Kill Watershed. Utilizing funding from NJCWRP, the SCMUA-WRWMG would like to work with youth participants in the summer camp programs at Fairview Lake YMCA and Princeton-Blairstown Center to deploy floating treatment wetlands at Fairview Lake and Bass Lake.  The proposed floating treatment island installation will build off of the SCMUA-WRWMG’s successful deployment of 4 such islands (funded by the NJDEP) at nearby Lake Owassa and Kemah Lake during fall 2022.  The goal of this program is to engage 75 students (many of whom are from marginalized communities) in hands-on, outdoor educational volunteer opportunities organized by the SCMUA-WRWMG where students will learn about green infrastructure best management practices for managing stormwater runoff and install herbaceous plant materials in each of the


Resource Values/Project Outputs:  

Floating treatment wetlands mimic the nonpoint source pollution treatment capabilities of natural wetlands by helping to manage phosphorus, nitrogen, heavy metals, and total suspended solids in water.  Each island is planted with native flowers and shrubs and is designed to help purify (improve water quality in) the lake. Pollutant removal can be accomplished two ways: 1) Microbes living in the lake will inhabit the polyethylene islands and will directly ingest HAB-causing cyanobacteria and 2) Plant roots will grow through the islands over time and can help take up nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen from the lake water. These dual strategies reduce the likelihood of harmful algal bloom (HAB) development.  Research conducted by Dr. Stephen Souza and others has shown that 250 square feet of floating wetlands can remove 10 lbs. of total phosphorus per year.

Cost/Budget: $100,087.76

Schedule: July-November 2023

Permit Status: No permits are required for deploying floating treatment wetlands into lakes.


List of Partners: 

  • SCMUA-Wallkill River Watershed Management Group

  • Fairview Lake YMCA Fairview Lake YMCA Camps

  • Princeton-Blairstown Center 

  • Princeton-Blairstown Center (


  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

  • William Penn Foundation

What is requested from the CWRP / Contribution: $25,000 to purchase 6 floating treatment wetlands

Point of Contact: 
Kristine Rogers, Watershed Education and Outreach Specialist
Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority-Wallkill River Watershed Management Group
Phone: 973-579-6998 ext. 110

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