The Camden Stormwater Management and Resource Training (SMART) initiative has received the 2012 New Jersey Governor's Environmental Excellence Award.

The awards are designed to recognize individuals, businesses, educators, institutions, communities, youth and others who have made significant contributions to environmental protection in New Jersey.  SMART will received the award at a ceremony today.

Meishka Mitchell, vice president of neighborhood initiative at Cooper's Ferry Partnership, said it was such an honor to be recognized for the work they are doing in Camden especially given the city's reputation.

"Camden is known for lots of things, sometimes not all positive," said Mitchell. "When it comes to sustainability over the last few years and the work that the city has been doing, the city is really being known today as an example and is kind of leading the way for sustainability and green infrastructure in the state so it's really good to be at the forefront of that movement."

The Camden Stormwater Management and Resource Training (SMART) initiative is a collaborative project that focuses on developing a comprehensive network of green and grey infrastructure programs in Camden to minimize the severe flooding issues in order to restore and revitalize neighborhoods. It is comprised of the City of Camden, Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, Cooper's Ferry Partnership, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program, New Jersey Tree Foundation and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Since 2011, the organization has implemented greening efforts including the implementation of 19 rain gardens throughout the city collecting about 1.5 million gallons of storm water per year.

"Its some what of a drop in the bucket, but we think every gallon of storm water we can take out of the system helps to minimize those types of flooding restraints," said Mitchell.

This year, approximately 15 more rain gardens will be implemented as well as other water harvesting programs, which will provide training to residents so that they can have their own rain barrel systems at their homes.

There will also be a $1.5M infrastructure improvement in the Cramer Hill Neighborhood that suffers from severe flooding with as little as one-inch rain falls. The improvement will consist of separating the storm water from the sewer system.

Last week at a sustainability forum Mayor Dana L. Redd introduced the launch of the Camden Collaborative Initiative, which is designed to identify and eliminate gaps and barriers to sustainable development and growth.
For more information, go to camdensmart.com.