New Jersey Water Savers Goes Corporate


The New Jersey Water Supply Authority (NJWSA) had already been working with corporations and businesses on their River-Friendly Business Program.  Although this program has a water conservation component, there has been very little activity from businesses to conserve water.  The RCE Water Resources Program and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) met with NJWSA to discuss building upon their existing relationships with the business community.  The Water Resources Program, NJDEP and NJWSA under the umbrella of New Jersey Water Savers Goes Corporate met with four companies - Raritan Valley Community College, Johnson and Johnson ITS Corporation in Raritan, Johnson and Johnson World Headquarters in New Brunswick, and Ethicon in Somerville - that are participating in the River-Friendly Business Program led by NJWSA.  Each company was offered technical support and limited financial support to undertake outdoor water conservation activities.  At the initial meeting with each company, outdoor water conservation information was presented to help educate the corporate officials and to encourage them to take action.  Each company presented several opportunities for New Jersey Water Savers Goes Corporate to assist them with outdoor water conservation projects. 

Since funding was limited, two projects were selected:  a rainwater harvesting system at Raritan Valley Community College and a
Landscape Irrigation Sustainability Audit at Johnson and Johnson ITS Corporation.  Additionally, an educational seminar for corporate officials was delivered at Ethicon in Bridgewater, New Jersey.  Finally, a water conservation workshop was presented at River-Friendly certified business Duke Farms in Hillsborough for any employees of the four corporations that were interested in attending.  This workshop included a build-a-rain barrel session where all participants had an opportunity to build a rain barrel for use at their home.

Landscape Irrigation Sustainability Audit

A Landscape Irrigation Sustainability Audit was conducted in June 2013 at Johnson and Johnson ITS Corporation.  The Brickman Group was hired to conduct the audit.  The site has one irrigation clock system that is located in the courtyard and is divided into 14 different zones.  Through the audit of each zone, Brickman was able to develop water conservation recommendations for each zone.  Recommendations included limiting turf areas, incorporating native plants into existing landscapes, and optimizing irrigation timing and location of sprinkler heads.  If all their recommendations were implemented, the site has the potential to go from using 531,160 gallons per year to 281,960 gallons per year.  These actions would save 249,200 gallons per year and save $1,831.81 per year.  Johnson and Johnson ITS Corporation plans to begin implementing the reduced irrigation schedule next year to reduce water use and is seeking funding for a Smart Clock to better time irrigation.

Rainwater Harvesting System

Many of the corporate campuses are known for their expanses of impervious surfaces, turf and beautiful landscapes.  Raritan Valley Community College is a corporate/university campus that fits this mold.  Potable water is currently being used to irrigate their athletic fields.  In 2010 they began collecting rooftop rainwater from their maintenance garage with a 500 gallon tank that is used to fill watering carts for landscaping needs. Thanks to funding from this grant, they now have another rainwater harvesting system that was installed outside of the Conference Center consisting of two-800 gallon tanks to harvest runoff from 4,295 square feet of roof top. 

rain water harvesting

1600 Gallon Rainwater Harvesting System installed at River-Friendly Business Raritan Valley Community College

The water will be used to irrigate nearby landscapes.  Based upon our design calculations, approximately 9,500 gallons per month will be harvested for watering landscapes, which translates into 65,000 gallons of water per year and about a $500 per year cost savings.

Educational Seminar for Corporate Officials

An educational seminar was held at Ethicon (a Johnson and Johnson Corporation) for corporate officials of this company.  The focus of the seminar was outdoor water conservation with a goal of increasing knowledge and awareness to promote behavior change.  The idea was to get the corporate officials excited about water conservation so they can provide the company with leadership in this endeavor.  Based upon the pre and post survey results, the attendees increased their knowledge and awareness by almost 40%.  Several of the attendees were determined to include some of the recommended water conservation practices and techniques into their future years' budgeting.  Although Johnson and Johnson Corporation has an overall sustainability goal to reduce water usage by 15%, until this presentation, the corporate officials at Ethicon did not have any realistic ideas of how to achieve this goal.  We expect Ethicon to begin moving forward in 2014 with more water conservation practices.

Water Conservation Education of Employees of Local Corporations

New Jersey Water Savers Goes Cooperate Build a Rain Barrel Workshop was hosted by the River-Friendly certified business Duke Farms in Hillsborough, NJ on August 6, 2013 where 35 rain barrels were built and 40 people attended.  Participants were solicited to attend this workshop from four companies that were contacted as part of the New Jersey Water Savers Program Goes Corporate.  Duke Farms served as a centralized location that was convenient for participants from all four companies to attend. 

rain barrel workshop

Build a Rain Barrel Workshop hosted by River-Friendly Business Duke Farms

At the workshop, participants were given pre and post surveys to complete to test their knowledge before and after the educational PowerPoint presentation regarding water conservation, stormwater management, and rain barrels.While this is a relatively small study group, the results of the pre and post survey demonstrate that attendance at a Build a Rain Barrel Workshop, with the key motivation being to get an inexpensive  rain barrel, may result in participants leaving the program better informed about other ways to conserve water and manage stormwater runoff from their homes.  An outcome of knowledge transfer is most rewarding.  The survey group exemplified prior knowledge that rain barrel water should not be used for cooking or drinking.  The biggest misunderstanding both pre and post the presentation is whether or not to test the water collected in a rain barrel before using it on a vegetable garden.

Results from the multiple choice questions:




Pre Survey



Post Survey



Agreement statements indicate that the presentation demonstrated adequately how to install a rain barrel and provided the participants confidence to do it themselves at home.  Approximately 39% of the participants indicated that they were against or neutral about installing indoor water saving devices prior to learning about the benefits.  Post survey results revealed only 11% were against or neutral following instruction. Assuming all 40 rain barrels that were distributed were installed, approximately 56,000 gallons of water per year will be conserved.  If all 40 of these rain barrels were installed to disconnect a downspout that was directly connected to the storm sewer system, approximately one million gallons of stormwater will be prevented from entering local waterways during smaller rainfall events.

Lessons Learned

  • While water conservation is not a high priority to individuals, municipalities, and businesses, education and outreach programming can draw attention to water conservation and promote behavior change.  Water conservation activities typically are not implemented as a cost savings measure but seen more as a responsibility of good citizens of our planet.  It is fairly easy to encourage people to implement water conservation efforts provided they are not too costly or if financial incentives are available.

  • The corporations and individuals who took part in this program now have a foundation of knowledge regarding the significance of water conservation and stormwater management and the impacts it can have on the health of the community as well as the health of our waterways.  These model programs are now readily available for use by other corporations or colleges to implement.

  • The New Jersey Water Savers Goes Corporate program highlighted the idea that it takes a long time to build relationships with corporations, which is why we used the corporations that NJWSA already had in their River-Friendly Business Program, and it still took lots of hand holding. Even after the buy in to move a project forward has been secured, the recipient may change their mind about what they have agreed to do on their property.  It took over a year for Raritan Valley Community College to install cisterns due to requesting changes in the proposed project and subsequent issues with acquiring the materials. People continue to love building rain barrels especially if the price is discounted.

  • Taking action at a few companies tends to generate interest from many more companies.  We found this out in this program as well as the River-Friendly Business Program of Morris County that we are currently working on with Pat Rector, Environmental and Resource Management County Agent with Morris and Somerset Counties.

The Partners