We’re committed to improving our ecosystems, quality of life, and communities for the better.
Our passion and commitment to the integration of innovative science and engineering drive us to exceed on behalf of every client.
Our lakes in New Jersey are an invaluable resource for clean drinking water, outdoor recreation, and agriculture and provide habitat for aquatic flora and fauna. Home to about 1,700 lakes, the “Garden State” is also the most densely populated state. Excess nutrients from fertilizers, roadway pollutants, overdevelopment, and failing septic systems can end up in our lakes and impair water quality. Larger rain events can also cause erosion and instability of streams, adding to the influx of more excess nutrients to our lakes and ponds. Changes in hydrology, water chemistry, biology, and/or physical properties in these complex ecosystems can have cascading consequences that can alter water quality and the surrounding ecosystem. For example, excess nutrients can fuel algal and plant growth in lakes and lead to issues like harmful algal blooms (HABs) or fish kills.
In order to ensure that we protect the overall health of our local waterbodies, it’s important that we look beyond just the lake itself. Implementing holistic watershed-based planning is a critical step in managing stormwater runoff, preventing the spread of HABs, and maintaining water quality. A watershed management plan defines and addresses existing or future water quality problems from both point sources and nonpoint sources of pollutants*. This approach addresses all the beneficial uses of a waterbody, the criteria needed to protect the use, and the strategies required to restore water quality or prevent degradation. When developing a watershed plan, we review all the tools in the toolbox and recommend a variety of best management practices to prevent nutrients from entering lakes or streams. Options include short- and long-term solutions such as green stormwater infrastructure, stream bank stabilization, and stormwater basin retrofits.
To reduce nutrient availability in lakes, one innovative tool in our toolbox is floating wetland islands (FWIs). FWIs are a low-cost, effective green infrastructure solution that are designed to mimic natural wetlands in a sustainable, efficient, and powerful way. They improve water quality by assimilating and removing excess nutrients; provide valuable ecological habitat for a variety of beneficial species; help mitigate wave and wind erosion impacts; provide an aesthetic element; and add significant biodiversity enhancement within open freshwater environments. FWIs are also highly effective in a range of waterbodies from big to small, from deep to shallow.
Typically, FWIs consist of a constructed floating mat, usually composed of woven, recycled plastic material, with vegetation planted directly into the material. The islands are then launched into the lake and anchored in place, and, once established, require very little maintenance.
It estimated that one 250-square-foot FWI has a surface area equal to approximately one acre of natural wetland. These floating ecosystems can remove approximately 10 pounds of phosphorus each year. To put that into perspective, one pound of phosphorus can produce 1,100 pounds of algae each year, so each 250-square-feet of FWI can potentially mitigate up to 11,000 pounds of algae.
In addition to removing phosphorus that can feed nuisance aquatic plant growth and algae, FWIs also provide excellent refuge habitat for beneficial forage fish and can provide protection from shoreline erosion.
Princeton Hydro has been working with Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey’s largest Lake, for 30+ years, restoring the lake, managing the watershed, reducing pollutant loading, and addressing invasive aquatic plants and nuisance algal blooms. Back in 2012, Lake Hopatcong became the first public lake in New Jersey to install FWIs. In the summer of 2022, nine more FWIs were installed in the lake with help from staff and volunteers from the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, Lake Hopatcong Commission, and Princeton Hydro. The lake’s Landing Channel and Ashley Cove were chosen for the installations because they are both fairly shallow and prone to weed growth. The installation of these floating wetland islands is part of a series of water quality initiatives on Lake Hopatcong funded by a NJDEP Harmful Algal Bloom Grant and 319(h) Grant awarded to Lake Hopatcong Commission and Lake Hopatcong Foundation.
Princeton Hydro partnered with the Greenwood Lake Commission (GWLC) on a FWI installation in Belcher’s Creek, the main tributary of Greenwood Lake. The lake, a 1,920-acre waterbody located in both New Jersey and New York, is a highly valued ecological, economical, and recreational resource. The lake also serves as a headwater supply of potable water that flows to the Monksville Reservoir and eventually into the Wanaque Reservoir, where it supplies over 3 million people with drinking water.
The goal of the FWI Installation was to help decrease total phosphorus loading, improve water quality, and create important habitat for beneficial aquatic, insect, bird, and wildlife species. The project was partially funded by the NJDEP Water Quality Restoration Grants for Nonpoint Source Pollution Program under Section 319(h) of the federal Clean Water Act. GWLC was awarded one of NJDEP’s matching grants, which provided $2 in funding for every $1 invested by the grant applicant.
Measuring 630+ acres, Harveys Lake is the largest natural lake (by volume) in Pennsylvania and is one of the most heavily used lakes in the area. It is classified as a high quality – cold water fishery habitat (HQ-CWF) and is designated for protection under the classification. Since 2002, The Borough of Harveys Lake and Harveys Lake Environmental Advisory Council has worked with Princeton Hydro on a variety of lake management efforts focused around maintaining high water quality conditions, strengthening stream banks and shorelines, and managing stormwater runoff. Five floating wetland islands were installed in Harveys Lake to assimilate and reduce nutrients already in the lake. The islands were placed in areas with high concentrations of nutrients, placed 50 feet from the shoreline and tethered in place with steel cables and anchored. The FWIs were funded by PADEP.
Working with the Deal Lake Commission (DLC), Princeton Hydro designed and installed 12 floating wetland islands at two lakes in Asbury Park, NJ. In order to complete the installation of the floating wetland islands, our team worked with the DLC to train and assist over 30 volunteers to plant plugs in the islands and launch them into the two lakes. Our experts helped disseminate knowledge to the volunteers, not only about how to install the floating wetland islands, but how they scientifically worked to remove excess nutrients from the water. With assistance from Princeton Hydro, DLC acquired the 12 floating islands – six for Wesley Lake and six for Sunset Lake – through a Clean Water Act Section 319(h) grant awarded by NJDEP.
In addition to the direct environmental benefits of FWIs, the planting events themselves, which usually involve individuals from the local lake communities, have long-lasting positive impacts. When community members come together to help plant FWIs, it gives them a deepened sense of ownership and strengthens their connection to the lake. This, in turn, encourages continued stewardship of the watershed and creates a broader awareness of how human behaviors impact the lake and its water quality. And, real water quality improvements begin at the watershed level with how people treat their land.
For more information on watershed planning or installing FWI in your community, click here to contact us. To learn more about ANJEC, go here.
*U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2008. Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Waters.
Your Full Name *
Phone Number *
Your Email *
By EmailBy Phone
Couldn’t find a match?
Check back often as we post new positions throughout the year.