By Mary Walton
When members of the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association arrived for Saturday’s meeting in the Community Room, they were confronted with a giant orange rain barrel positioned at the entrance. Each person was handed a free raffle ticket.
The rain barrel was donated by Victor J. Coppola, the head of GreenWorks, an environmental and energy consulting firm, who was the meeting’s speaker.
For the next hour, while members may have been thinking, “Gee, what will I do with a giant rain barrel if I win?,” Coppola held forth on natural ways to purify water and improve the microenvironments of an Ocean Grove home.
Although Ocean Grove may appear to be a pristine village by the sea, here as anywhere else rainfall collects pollutants from roofs, lawns and pavement. Sometimes there are chemical spills. Contaminated water soaks into the aquifers beneath the earth’s surface, and its vapors percolate upward through basements, where they can aggravate asthma and allergies.
So how to purify that water? Coppola, an energy and environmental consultant based in Allenwood, detailed some suggestions. Rain gardens filled with plants that filter out pollutants. Roof gardens, and walls cloaked with greenery, that provide natural heating and cooling. Natural swimming pools that use plants and beneficial bacteria to cleanse water of contaminants. “Just picture if we did a little of this,” he said. “Europeans have been doing it for years. They’re way ahead of us.”
For a look at a large, flourishing rain garden, stroll over to Asbury Park Transportation Center. It’s right in front. There’s another in front of the new Midtown School on Corlies. Rain gardens can be done on a small scale. Linda Bauer volunteered that she and her husband, John, who are both Master Gardeners, have one in their tiny backyard.
Coppola is a dynamic speaker, and the audience was fully engaged. For nearly an hour, he took questions about moisture and other issues. What about gutters? (You really do need them to keep your basement dry and foundation from crumbling.) Mold? (Caused by humidity, not water, and every house has some. Better call in help.) What to do with old oil tanks no longer in use? (Can be removed with proper permits, or, if clean, filled and left underground.) How do I know if vapors are seeping into my basement? (“If you think there’s a problem, I guarantee there’s something going on.”)
And now for the winner of the giant orange rain barrel: Janet Whritner of Cookman Avenue. She promptly announced she was donating her prize to Ocean Grove Beautification. Afterward, she explained her decision. “I heard Connie Ogden [a leader of Ocean Grove Beautification] say if she won it, it would be great for Beautification. And I thought, we all benefit from Beautification, and we all enjoyed this man’s talk, and this was a way that everybody could share the experience.”