What Will You Do When It Rains?

Jersey City runs a mixed water system, connecting sewage and rainwater runoff. The system, built for a smaller, less dense city, can only hold so much, and our growing population is decreasing the city’s ability to sustainably absorb rainwater runoff. Excess runoff is a well known problem in the city; it’s why basements flood during heavy storms and why hurricane Sandy gave so many families unwanted lake-front property. Our goal is to create crowdsourced solutions to remove stress on the city’s system and reduce the harmful excess runoff. Our campaign depends on three steps:


The cities system is under stress during heavy storms with rainwater running off roofs, streets, and paved yards through storm drains into city catch basins. During heavy storms these catch basins exceed their intended capacity.

By collecting rainwater on an individual or household level, we remove stress on the city system, even by only a few cups or gallons at a time. You can help by collecting water in anything, from buckets you had in storage to rainwater tanks that attach to your gutter. Remember, every gallon you collect is a gallon that doesn’t leak into your basement.


Now that the water is in your hands, hold onto it. The water main is running at capacity during and shortly after the storm, so it’s important to wait until the rain has stopped to put the water back into the system. With drought conditions in so many areas, it may help to store for even longer.


Now that you have the water, how you use it is up to you. Will you water your garden, wash your dog, or return the water to the runoff system through the catch basins on a sunnier day? Don’t forget to let us know what you’re doing for the #RainBucketChallenge

What Else Can I Do?

I’ve taken the #RainBucketChallenge, but I’m interested in increasing my involvment!


There are lots of ways to scale up your impact on reducing water runoff. One of the best things you can do is plant a garden or trees. Paved lawns let water collect, overflowing the system, but a garden is an easy way to absorb this water, in addition to making our city more pleasant. It’s also a long-term investment that will help the city every time it rains.

You can also take care of a catch basin. Every time it rains, especially in the fall, the storm drains fill with leaves, preventing the basin from collecting all the runoff it can. By committing to take care of a basin by you, you can make sure the city’s sytem can work as efficiently as possible. And taking care of a basin is easy! Just clear leaves and debris off the drain before a storm and let the water flow. Sign up on the map below and you’ll get a reminder every time a storm is coming.