Colorful Catch Basins around Jersey City Star a Red-eyed Tree Frog

Jersey City, have you seen all the colorful images painted on catch basins all around town?

Our city wants residents and business owners to “adopt a catch basin.” When Frogs Are Green heard about this program, in which artists decorate these basins with whatever images you suggest, we claimed a drain, and now the corner of Central Avenue and Bleecker Street boasts a gorgeous, colorful red-eyed tree frog. We also just claimed the opposite corner which we call Biodiversity Matters. Environmental themes make the most sense.

Red-eyed Tree Frog artwork for catch basin in Jersey City Heights.

Red-eyed tree frog artwork for catch basin in Jersey City Heights.

As you walk around Jersey City, you’ll see a lighthouse, fish, turtles, sea turtles, an octopus, and many other original artworks by different artists. When you join the program and adopt a drain, you get to name it and request a certain image.

This is a great way to give artists work, clean up the streets, and show citizens where rain water goes. Once you claim a drain, you become responsible for keeping it clear from trash and, in the colder months, ice and snow. It’s a useful reminder not to throw garbage down there. Year after year I’ve walked around my neighborhood and seen trash and leaves piling up at these catch basins and trees, like a new sign post for trash. Since the city has a limited amount of street cleaners–actual people who only work main streets and only certain days– getting the public involved will help.


About the “Adopt a Catch Basin” program from the Jersey City Office of Innovation’s website:

“Catch basins or sewer drains collect storm and rain water from streets and sidewalks, which then travels into the sewer system. Any debris in the street and on the sidewalk can clog and block a catch basin, causing local flooding and potentially polluting our waterways. Our ‘Adopt a Catch Basin’ program empowers local residents and other volunteers to help keep catch basins clean and expand awareness of our sewer system.”


Once I made this commitment, I started researching what does go down the drain besides rain water and have discovered some unbelievable facts.

NJ’s sewage systems are old and in serious need of repair. Just read this article about what happened to the Middlesex County Utilities Authority in New Jersey. They were just starting to repair the main pump when Hurricane Sandy hit.

…Hurricane Sandy triggered flooding that knocked out the Passaic Valley Utility Authority in Newark—the fifth-largest wastewater treatment facility in the country—for weeks, sending some 840 million gallons of untreated sewage into Newark Bay, according to a 2013 report by the independent research organization Climate Central.

The federal EPA in 2008 estimated the cost of upgrading New Jersey’s CSOs statewide at $9.3 billion.

…Environmentalists warn that the high cost of fixing New Jersey’s ailing sewer systems pales beside the cost of doing nothing. While our ocean waters were deemed swimmable in a July 2013 DEP assessment, 73 percent of the state’s non-ocean waters tested failed due to bacteria indicating the presence of fecal matter. And only 3 percent of 952 watersheds were judged safe to eat, with 38 percent containing dangerous levels of mercury or toxic PCBs…

Please read the entire article here:

Just imagine what this means to wildlife. Let’s all do our part in helping the environment be safe for all.



New Year's Thoughts: Can We Avoid the Environmental Cliff in 2013?

As I write this, Democrats and Republicans are attempting to hammer out a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. But as I look back on the environmental news of 2012, it seems to me that we are also heading for an environmental cliff.

At the start of 2012, I wouldn’t have believed that I would be in my kitchen offering coffee to a FEMA employee as a result of damage to our house due to Hurricane Sandy, not to mention discussing our situation with a flood insurance agent who had helped Hurricane Katrina victims. (Learning that put our problems in perspective.) We are still cleaning up and I will be surrounded by cardboard boxes and the smell of toxic floodwater for a long time to come. I’m sure Susan also wasn’t expecting to spend eight days in the dark with no power or heat.

Hurricane Sandy has at least brought the topic of global warming up again for public discussion. Remember when Mitt Romney joked at the Republican convention about the rising ocean? Turns out it wasn’t such a funny joke.

Meterologists may argue about whether Sandy was caused by global warming, but many scientists believe that global warming turned what might have been a really bad storm into a “super storm.” Yet there can be no argument that the melting of the arctic ice caps is due to global warming: The ice caps are melting at an unprecedented speed. So what? you say. The polar ice caps have melted faster in the last 20 years than in the past 10,000 years. When this ice melts, global sea levels rise; meltwater pools absorb heat from the sun that white ice would have reflected back into space. This accelerates climate change even more.

2012 was also notable for being a dustbowl year. The US experienced the worst drought in fifty years with 80 percent of arable and pasture land affected by the highest temperatures ever recorded.

Fifty years ago Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, which began the environmental movement. Now this movement seems tired, as if nothing will rouse it, even the prospects of floods, droughts, melting ice caps, and hurricanes, not to mention disappearing animal species, and other environmental disasters.

Perhaps before the New Year begins, we need a reminder of why we need to make the environment a priority. Here’s a BBC One video a Frogs Are Green friend sent us. We all need to get re-inspired to help save our beautiful world:

Some of information/ideas in this post came from The Independent (UK) article: Review of the Environment 2012: In the Eye of the Storm