The City of Camden has a combined sewer system, meaning stormwater and sewage all end up in the same network. It all ends up going to Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority’s treatment plant. Severe rain causes a problem for the system.
“It becomes increasingly more expensive because as we have large storm events, it really can overflow our combined sewer, so that’s a challenge. And throughout many locations where there is combined sewer, when the system gets overloaded it has an overflow to the river. So that does mean that we have sanitary sewage discharging into the river,” said Susan Harris, a consultant for Rowan University.
Separating the combined sewer system has been described as prohibitively expensive. According to CCMUA, a decade ago estimates for the job were over $1 billion. As a way to help ease the problem of stormwater overflow, CCMUA sponsored a team from Rowan to develop a green stormwater infrastructure plan for the Waterfront South neighborhood.
The goal of the recommended projects is to help slow down rainwater from overflowing the system and to clean the water. One solution is adding stormwater bumpouts.
“Water just passes down the road. As it travels, it picks up the oils and gas from vehicles, it picks up sediment, it picks up road particulates. So the concept of a stormwater bumpout would be to create a little vegetative area, so water flows down, it gets captured in this small vegetative area before draining into the existing storm drain,” said Harris.
About one-third of the locations identified in the plan for proposed projects were recommended by residents. There’s a total of 43 locations in south Camden that researchers have identified as places where they believe would benefit from projects like these.
CCMUA says they will take that report and put together an action plan.