By Sue Levine, Great Swamp Watershed Association

“Everyone has a basin on their block. It is the drainage on the corner. With all of the trash, when it rains, and it floods, it all ends up in this basin. So if we all get out and clean those basins, it will help the water stream flow.” Chrystal Cleaves, Paterson Green Team member.

With support from the Sewage-Free Streets and Rivers campaign, the Paterson Green Team and the Great Swamp Watershed Association launched Paterson’s adopt a catch basin program. Inspired by Newark’s adopt a catch basin program, the groups worked together to develop a program unique to Paterson. The program kicked off in August 2019 at Barbour Park with a community barbeque, coordinated by Councilwoman Ruby Cotton and the Paterson Fireman – Bronze Heat Team. At the event, residents picked up adopt a catch basin kits, learned about combined sewer overflow issues in Paterson and the need to have a Long Term Control Plan to reduce contaminate that flows into the streets and rivers.

Since August, 40 adopt a catch basin kits, equipped with instructions on cleaning the basins, a tracking sheet, gloves and trash bags were delivered to community members in most of the six wards. The organizing groups have received positive feedback and are seeing the program gain traction. After Councilwoman Ruby Cotton and her husband decided to adopt a basin, her husband expanded his reach, and now oversees 10 basins near his home. She feels this initiative has helped reduce basin flooding in her immediate neighborhood.

Educational meetings were held at City Hall and also in community settings including the Freedom Village Senior Center, the Great Falls Youth Center, and the Boys and Girls Club of Paterson. At the evening meetings, the community shared flooding experiences and residents learned about the impact of combined sewer overflows and the alternatives Paterson is considering. Residents gained a better understanding of how best they can get involved and have a voice in the process. The Paterson Green Team and the Great Swamp Watershed Association look forward to increasing the number of adopted catch basins to help reduce flooding in the City of Paterson. 

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