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Jersey City Students Raise Money for Storm Water Planters and a Rain Harvesting System

The PS#5 Eco-Cougars have launched an online fundraiser through to raise money for rain harvesting systems that will help address flooding problems around the school and conserve water for use in the school garden. Their work has also earned them the Bronze award with National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program.

Jersey City, NJ, June 24, 2014 --( PS5 Awarded Eco-Schools USA Bronze Award for their Efforts.

The Dr. Michael Conti PS#5 Eco-Cougars have launched an online fundraiser through to raise money for rain harvesting systems that will help address flooding problems around the school and conserve water for use in the school garden. What began as a middle school classroom study on water conservation evolved into a mission to install green infrastructure on school grounds and become an example of urban sustainability. This path led students to meet with experts from the Water Resource Program located at Rutgers University, present in front of City Council and partner with Sustainable Jersey City. The students have launched a web based fundraising campaign to raise $10,000 to build storm water planters as well as a rain harvesting system. PS#5’s work has also earned them the Bronze award with National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program which supports and recognizes schools efforts to integrate sustainability into the curriculum and school grounds. The Eco-Cougars were also named National Finalists in the Siemens' "We Can Change the World" challenge. They were one of three schools in New Jersey to be awarded this honor.

Jennifer Dowd, Eco-Schools NJ Coordinator, NJ Audubon says, “PS #5 is the perfect example of an Eco-School in action. Students identified a problem and engaged in project based learning to develop creative solutions. Their actions have real world sustainable outcomes for their school and their community.” “Most importantly,” Principal John J. Rivero points out “these students have learned an invaluable learning experience that they will never forget, an opportunity to do something to benefit their community, an opportunity to serve.

PS #5 students led by Steve Vazquez, Uzair Ikram, Angelic Aviles and Janelle Perez estimate that 80% of rainwater from the roof can be harvested using stormwater planters in the front of the school and a catchment system on the roof to direct water into a 300 gallon tank to be used in the existing raised bed gardens. During rain events the sewer system in Jersey City often overflows. PS #5 students have noted that water pools around the school make it difficult to walk to school on rainy days. In addition the flooding causes non-point sources of pollution which are then sent into nearby water ways. The Eco-Cougars see green infrastructure as a low cost solution to keeping the rainwater from flowing into the sewers.

The students hope to become the first school in Jersey City to use green infrastructure to manage storm water runoff. The Eco-Cougars hope to use PS5 as an educational experience for the student body as well as the community. In addition PS#5 students want to protect our local water ways and reduce the amount of pollutants that are transported by storm water runoff. "The students at PS#5 have done outstanding work as it relates to urban sustainability and the issue of flooding near the school," said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. They "gained hands-on experience and developed solutions to real world problems."

"As both a new parent and an environmental engineer, I'm impressed both with the project as a great demonstration of effective stormwater management solutions anyone can do and with the work my fellow proactive community members have put into this. They have shown me the great potential Jersey City public schools have to offer,” says Colleen Kirk, Green Infrastructure Project Leader.

To help the Eco-Cougars meet their fundraising goal and support their rain harvest project, visit

About Eco-Schools
Eco-Schools is an international program in 59 countries. The program, hosted by the National Wildlife Federation in the United States, and coordinated by New Jersey Audubon in New Jersey now has 117 schools registered throughout the state. Eco-Schools USA in New Jersey supports and directly aligns with Sustainable Jersey for Schools point-based system. With support from PSE&G, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Horizon Foundation, and Spencer Savings Bank Eco-Schools USA is able to provide a staff person on the ground to help New Jersey schools reach their goals. For more information:

About Sustainable Jersey City
Sustainable Jersey City is a Collaborative Network of green community groups and individuals within Jersey City who have come together to advance efforts to move the city toward a more sustainable future. For more information:

About National Wildlife Federation:
National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization inspiring people to protect wildlife for our children’s future. NWF focuses its education and policy work on connecting children to nature for a nation of happier, healthier kids. NWF’s state affiliate is NJ Audubon. For more information:

About NJ Audubon:
The New Jersey Audubon Society is a privately supported, not-for profit, statewide membership organization that fosters environmental awareness and a conservation ethic among New Jersey's citizens; protects New Jersey's birds, mammals, other animals, and plants, especially endangered and threatened species; and promotes preservation of New Jersey's valuable natural habitats. For more information:
Contact Information
National Wildlife Federation
Jessica Brown
Jennifer Dowd
New Jersey Audubon

Debra Italiano
Sustainable Jersey City

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