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Urban Waters Partnership

Lower Passaic River Community Involvement Workshops

The Lower Passaic River UWFP is hosting a series of workshops in September and October 2017 to drive the content of a Lower Passaic River Community Involvement Guide.

  • Does your stewardship group want to learn more about Passaic River issues?
  • Does your Green Team or Environmental Commission have questions about the best ways to give input on federal flood risk management projects?
  • Interested in bringing the Urban Waters Partnership to your group's meeting? 

If so, contact: Sarah Lerman-Sinkoff, Urban Waters Ambassador. 

On this page:

Why A Lower Passaic River Community Involvement Guide: History and Case Study

The Community Involvement Guide and workshops were developed after a series of Partnership meetings in May of 2016 focused on Newark’s Riverfront Park. At the meetings, representatives from local NGOs, city, state, and federal agencies mapped out their ongoing projects and initiatives along the riverfront. During the discussion, representatives from local NGOs expressed concern that an Army Corps of Engineers flood risk management project, advanced in response to Hurricane Sandy, was slated to intersect with a new Riverfront Park.

With the assistance of the Partnership, local stakeholders successfully collaborated to integrate flood control elements from the Army Corps of Engineers project into the design of the new park.  Coming out of these meetings, members of the Partnership observed that while the individual affected organizations took initiative to resolve the Newark Riverfront Park issue, flood resiliency and project coordination would benefit from continued partnership assistance throughout this increasingly vulnerable, formerly industrial, densely populated watershed. The Partnership concluded that a proactive approach to community engagement—developing a shared Community Involvement Guide for the watershed to guide federal and state agencies—could more effectively bring stakeholders to consensus in times of need.

Goals of the Community Involvement Guide

  • Help federal and state agencies, with a focus on the US Army Corps of Engineers, better solicit the public's input on flood risk management and ecological restoration projects. 
  • Help civic organizations along the Passaic River navigate the agency processes involve in flood risk management and ecological resotation, and connect with groups working on similar issues along the river. 

About the Guide

The guide will include two products:

  1. A publicly available report geared towards the federal agencies with information about the communication tools local stakeholders use to reach their membership. 
  2. An open source map maintained by the Urban Waters Partnership, geared toward the civic community, of local groups engaging in stewardship and community development activities along the Lower Passaic River, and their main program areas and partners. 

Creating the Guide: Workshops and Survey

To develop the content for the map and report, the Partnership is rolling out a series of public workshops as well as a survey across the Lower Passaic River in September and October. The workshops come in half-hour, one hour, and 15 minute versions, and can be held as either part of a regular group's meeting or as an optional "add-on" to the group's agenca. For groups interested in hosting the one hour long workshop, the Lower Passaic Urban Waters Partnership is able to provide a light meal for the meeting. 

1. About the Passaic River (30 minutes)

This workshop is geared towards civic organizations that haven't necessarily engaged in Passaic River issues before, but are involved in community development, volunteerism, or stewardship activities. The 30 minute workshop includes a brief presentation on the history of federal and state involvement on the Passaic River, a short training on how the public can weigh-in on government projects through the National Environmental Protection Act process, and a 15 minute participatory exercise gathering information about local communication tools via live polling software. 

Sample Agenda:

  • Presentation (15 minutes): About the Partnership, ongoing agency projects on the Lower Passaic River addressing flooding, combined sewer overflows, sediment pollution, public access, and ecological restoration.
  • Training (5 minutes): Introduction to community engagement on federal projects under the National Environmental Protection Act.
  • Participation Exercise (10 minutes): Gathering information about what communication tools local communities use through plenary dicsussion and live polling stations. 

2. Public Involvement in Flood Mitigation Projects (1 hour)

One hour workshops are good for groups tat have engaged in advocacy on the Passaic River in the past and want a better understanding of the Army Corps of Engineers study process to better direct their efforts. This workshop includes a short history of the federal projects on the Lower Passaic, a training on the formal mechnaisms for weighing in on the US Army Corp of Engineers flood risk and ecological restoration projects, and the participatory exercise for gathering information about local communication tools via live poling.

Sample Agenda: 

  • Introduction (10 minutes): About the Lower Passaic River UWFP and a brief history of federal involvement in the watershed. 
  • Presentation (25 minutes): Training about the USACEfeasibility study process and how public participation fits in. 
  • Participatory Exercise (25 minutes): Gathering information about what communication tools local communities use through plenary discussion and live polling software.
  • Wrap Up (5 minutes): Where to find information about current projects taking place on the Lower Passaic River, brief introduction to the Lower Passaic River online stewardship map. 

3. Participation Tools (15 minutes)

This workshop includes just the participatory exercise for gathering information about local communication tools.

4. Civic Organization Survey 

This 5-10 minute survey will gather information about civic organizations involved in stewardship and sustainable community development activities along the river, their general program areas, and their partnerships. The results of the survey will populate the Lower Passaic River Stewarship Map. Coming soon!

Workshop Schedule:

Newark DIG 9/26 – Public Involvement in Flood Mitigation Projects

Newark Environmental Commission 10/4 – About the Passaic and Participation Tools

Essex County Environmental Commission 11/6 – Public Involvement in Flood Mitigation

Friends of Riverfront Park 11/16 – Participation Tools

Contact Sarah Lerman-Sinkoff, Urban Waters Ambassador, to bring a workshop to your organization.