Pathogens Monitoring Results for 8.27.2020

Photos and article by LRWP Board President Heather Fenyk

The LRWP and EARTH Center of Middlesex County monitor for Fecal Coliform and Enterococcus at six non-swimming public beach access sites along the Lower Raritan during the warmer summer months. Fecal Coliform and Enterococcus are indicators of disease-causing bacteria in our waterways.

The EPA recommends that a single Enterococcus sample be less than 110 Colony Forming Units (CFU)/100mL for primary contact. Enterococci levels are used as indicators of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria in recreational waters. Such pathogens may pose health risks to people fishing and swimming in a water body. Sources of bacteria include Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), improperly functioning wastewater treatment plants, stormwater runoff, leaking septic systems, animal carcasses, and runoff from manure storage areas. Enterococci levels are often high after heavy or consistent rainfall.

This week our South Amboy and Perth Amboy sites look great. Things are not so great at our Piscataway, New Brunswick, Edison and Sayreville sites – Enterococcus CFUs are quite high. Please note that these results for August 20, 2020 are preliminary and awaiting Quality Control.

Field Notes

Warm and muggy day for pathogens sampling. LOTS of bunker at the Edison Boat Basin and Sayreville Ken Buchanan Boat launch sites. Red tide and dead crabs in South Amboy. Special thanks to Maya for all her help monitoring this summer – today was her last day in the field before she heads back to school.

Look! Bunker/Menhaden! We saw lots of these guys at both our Sayreville (pictured) and Edison sites.
Dead crabs and red tide at the South Amboy beach
This week we dropped our samples off in Bayonne at a monitoring site for the Hackensack Riverkeeper – they have great views of Elizabeth, NJ’s working port!

Summer 2020 Raritan Monitoring Sites

The New Jersey state Department of Environmental Protection and Middlesex County Health Departments typically monitor at sanctioned public swimming beach sites. They do not monitor the water quality for pathogens at public access non-swimming beach sites along the Raritan, despite regular use of these areas for primary contact (fishing and swimming) by members of our urban communities.

The LRWP works with in partnership with the Interstate Environmental Commission for lab analysis of our samples. We have a Quality Assurance Protocol Plan (QAPP) approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. We work to report our results as soon as lab analysis is completed.