Strengthening Hoboken’s Water Management Systems

The Problem

Located on the Hudson River, the City of Hoboken relies on an antiquated water management system, leading to increased flooding.

  • The city’s water management system combines sewage and stormwater in the same pipes. This contributes to routine flooding and sewage backups during rainstorms.
  • High tides, low terrain impervious surfaces, and insufficient pumping capacity also exacerbate flooding.
  • These factors combine to pose the highest flood and public health risks to low-income and minority communities, many of which are located in low-lying areas.

The Solution

As part of the Cities of Service Prepared Together Program, the City of Hoboken provided training opportunities for low-income residents of Hoboken Housing Authority and high school students to install and maintain green infrastructure, such as rain gardens and shade trees.

  • With support from Cities of Service, AmeriCorps VISTA members recruited local businesses and other partners to participate in the trainings and forged relationships with residents.
  • The city worked with Rutgers University and Stevens Institute to pilot a Summer Youth Employment Training program, teaching youth to how install and maintain green infrastructure like rain gardens, trees, and bioswales, which help collect and remove stormwater and debris.
  • AmeriCorps VISTA members also developed a curriculum in partnership with Rutgers University and Stevens Institute to train adult Hoboken Housing Authority residents in green infrastructure installation and maintenance and help prepare them for employment.

The Results

The city has trained a number of residents and youth to install and maintain green infrastructure, which helped the city mitigate future flooding and created a pipeline of potential workers with skills for the green economy.

  • The city trained five adults to install and maintain green infrastructure, including three Hoboken Housing Authority residents, providing them with job skills. All five were hired, four as part time or seasonal employees by the city of Hoboken and one by a local company.
  • Approximately 50 youth participated in the youth green infrastructure employment training program, half of whom were low-income residents of the Hoboken Housing Authority. They completed 2,046 hours of service to maintain green infrastructure and parks throughout the city.
  • An estimated 80,000 gallons of stormwater have been safely diverted from the city’s aging water management system due to maintained rain gardens, bioswales, and other green infrastructure.

Keys to Success  

The city had few ties with local nonprofits and businesses when the project began, but the AmeriCorps VISTA members’ outreach created new relationships.

  • The AmeriCorps VISTA members reached out to vendors to provide free presentations on topics such as tree care and installing permeable pavement and green roofs (roofs covered in vegetation).
  • Trainings also created opportunities for the city to develop stronger ties with businesses and vendors that install and maintain green infrastructure for the city, and demonstrated that the program can provide a pipeline of trained employees and volunteers to do green infrastructure work.