Month: June 2021

June Update from the Boat Shop

Saturday June 19 was the last day of the women’s “build your own paddle” workshop. Big thanks to Amber Hennes and Sarah Tomasello for jumping in to lead this absolutely amazing program, and to the great group of ladies who joined us for the pilot program. We all learned a lot, and just look at these beautiful paddles!!

The clock is ticking on our Fresh Grocer space downtown New Brunswick – a big shout out to the New Brunswick Parking Authority for allowing us to take over this facility for a wonderful six months of paddle building, boat building and community building. Keep your fingers crossed for Captain Derek Hartwick and our LRWP team – we’re hoping to soon find a new permanent location for boat building, rowing program development, and more.

Raritan River Pathogens Monitoring Results for 6.17.2021

Our lab is looking into possible holding time issues with a few of our samples for 6.17.2021, which would mean that our Edison and Sayreville results might have to be thrown out. HOWEVER, it is looking like green smiles across the board for the first time since we started our Raritan River pathogens monitoring program! (See here for more information on our pathogens monitoring program). As always, huge thanks to our Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and Interstate Environmental Commission partners, and to our amazing volunteers! Happy Father’s Day Weekend!!

Summer Rain

Article and photos by Joe Mish

The gentle summer rain falling on the reflective water, lined with muted shades of gray and green foliage, combine to create a scene so peaceful, you must remember to take a next breath.

The gentle summer rain falling on the reflective water, lined with muted shades of gray and green foliage, combine to create a scene so peaceful, you must remember to take a next breath.

The mid-summer sunlight dimmed, as amorphous white clouds, heavy with moisture, washed over the blue sky. Deep shadows settled in among the layers of leaves that blended the crowns of oaks and maples into a coarse, solid green curtain. The leaves of the Norway maples on the outer edge of the woodlot appeared pale matte green in the dim light and hung motionless at a sixty-five-degree angle as the atmosphere held its breath in anticipation of the impending rain.

As the rain began, the earliest errant drops chose random dance partners among the leafy branches. Though not a breeze was evident, individual leaves began to dance while others remained perfectly still. Partners were exchanged and switched until the full burst of rain fell from the clouds to engage all the leaves to move to the rhythm of the falling rain. 

A gentle summer rain is a perfect complement to a warm summer day. Clear blue skies and unfiltered sunshine heat the earth and plants to further warm the air from below. Pollen and dust, at the mercy of the breeze, settle everywhere. 

The heat rising from the earth mixes with the already warmed atmosphere to create a layer of suffocating air. The promise of relief comes, when in late afternoon, billowy white clouds appear on the horizon in dramatic contrast against the unobstructed azure blue sky. The transient clouds, directed by upper atmosphere winds, obscure the sun as they drift across the sky, trailing rain in their wake.  Immediately the stifling temperature falls as cool raindrops hit the dry earth. Each drop a micro explosion, as dust and pollen are washed away and reconstituted into the soil. In the aftermath, on the field where the clash of violent heat transfer and exploding dust particles flew, a veil of white mist hangs low over the battleground as the sunshine returns.  

While the rainfall was sudden, it was expected. In fact, the coming rain was preceded by a distinct odor.

Researchers claim the familiar scent that sometimes fills the air prior to a coming rain is ozone being pulled to earth from high in the atmosphere and most often occurs after a dry spell. 

In the temporary shelter under a full leafed tree, another odor, distinct from the ozone, fills your nostrils. It is best described as organic and to me, smells like what I think rich moist soil smells like. Even without rain, upon entering mature woods there is that same odor, enhanced by the heavy foliage which contains the moisture in the air as it mixes with the natural composting of decaying plant matter. The odor, initially after a rain begins to fall, is from the composting bacteria in the soil mixed with ozone, the combination named petrichor. 

Sun showers are a summer event where magic seems to partner with nature to produce a contradictory reality. The sun shines while the rain falls, no clouds obscure the sun. A meteorological phenomenon that is best left unexplained to be thoroughly enjoyed. Consider it a momentary truce among the elements who constantly clash for dominance in the atmospheric heavens.       

Whether a sun shower, cloud burst or late afternoon thunderstorm, refreshing, best describes a summer rain, it is an invitation to step out and feel the cool gentle rain on your face, and try to catch a few drops on your tongue. It is life, composed mostly of water, who recognizes itself in the heaven sent drops of rain, especially during a warm and gentle summer rain. 

Author Joe Mish has been running wild in New Jersey since childhood when he found ways to escape his mother’s watchful eyes. He continues to trek the swamps, rivers and thickets seeking to share, with the residents and visitors, all of the state’s natural beauty hidden within full view. To read more of his writing and view more of his gorgeous photographs visit Winter Bear Rising, his wordpress blog. Joe’s series “Nature on the Raritan, Hidden in Plain View” runs monthly as part of the LRWP “Voices of the Watershed” series. Writing and photos used with permission from the author. Contact See more articles and photos at

Petition to Support Development of a Community Boat House on the Raritan River in Middlesex County

The Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership (LRWP) and Friends are petitioning the Commissioners of Middlesex County, New Jersey for development of a community boathouse and launch facility on the Raritan River Waterfront. We have three main objectives:

  1. Protect and store the boats and equipment for Youth and Community Rowing Clubs and for personal human powered watercraft and gear;
  2. Increase access to the Raritan Riverfront for human powered watercraft, including a universal access launch; and
  3. Preserve and increase public access to the Raritan River.

If you share our dream of a more accessible Raritan River, please provide your signature on this petition.

Why should Middlesex County Commissioners support a community boathouse and launch facility on the Raritan River?

Middlesex County is the largest landholder of Raritan River-adjacent land. Public access to the Raritan, and public facilities and opportunities for on-River recreation, are in short supply in Middlesex County.

Who would use a community boathouse and launch facility on the Raritan River?

The building and associated boat storage and launch will provide secure indoor and outdoor facilities for equipment belonging to community, youth, High School, and other rowing clubs.

Facilities will include secure boat and gear storage for personal watercraft, accessible in a “self-store / self-serve” structure.

The public will be able to rent space within the boathouse for workshops, meetings, and events; use observation decks for data gathering, birdwatching and exploration; and utilize publicly accessible docks for launch of kayaks, canoes and other human powered watercraft.

What are the public benefits of this community boathouse project?

This project increases access to the Raritan River for the general public by providing facilities for the secure storage of human powered watercraft to facility and enjoyment of our waterways.

This project strengthens partnerships of human powered watercraft users to work together to provide opportunities for public outdoor recreation on the Raritan River by creating a center for community.

How does this project fit into the County’s strategic plans?

The Community Boathouse Project fits within many planning documents, priorities, and goals that the County has developed through due diligence processes. These include Destination2040 Plan development, County Open Space planning, Middlesex County Parks & Recreation programming, and other County-led initiatives.

Pathogens Monitoring Results 6.3.2021

What a soggy week in the Lower Raritan, with 1.56 inches accumulated in our rain gauge in the 24 hours since our water quality monitoring activities yesterday morning June 3. The USGS flood gage shows discharge significantly above the 24 year median daily statistic.

With such significant precipitation please know that our pathogens sampling numbers for six non-bathing public access beach sites captured during June 3, 2021 monitoring are not reflective of the current situation. (See here for more on our pathogens monitoring program):

Enterococci results are reported in Colony Forming Units or CFUs. Suitable levels for primary contact should not exceed 110 cfu/100mL. Pathogens/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.

Huge thanks to our partners: Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission.

Field Notes:

Summer 2021 Raritan Pathogens Monitoring Update

For Summer 2021 the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership and our Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County partners are building up our pathogens monitoring program in several new ways.

  1. With grant support from The Watershed Institute we have engaged Jocelyn Palomino as a Project Coordinator to lead sampling and conduct outreach focused on engagement with the Spanish-speaking community. This will involve sampling demonstrations at our Perth Amboy 2nd Street Park site, boat trips, and more.
  2. Earlier this Spring we started meeting with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding improving our understanding of pathogens flows into the Raritan. In addition to our six (6) non-bathing public access beach monitoring sites, for Summer 2021 the EPA will monitor an additional 22 in-channel sites for fecal/enterococcus going all the way up to Bound Brook and including the D&R Canal;
  3. With support from the EPA, we will continue genetic source studies at our 6 sites AS WELL AS at the EPA’s 22 new sites to determine whether the fecal is human/bird/dog/horse etc.;
  4. We are working with Interstate Environmental Commission to compare IDEXX vs. membrane filtration technology. This means that each of our samples will be analyzed by BOTH methods during this monitoring season. It will be an interesting comparison to run these numbers for the whole summer. NJDEP ONLY accepts the more stringent IDEXX method.
  5. We are working with Rutgers Office of Analytics to develop a predictive model based on our data. That is, our goal with the model is to input precipitation, rainfall, tidal influence, etc. for those dates that we cannot go out sampling, and still get a good sense for what the likelihood of fecal/entero levels.
  6. We are planning more water-based reconnaissance for outfalls and compromised sewage infrastructure at our sites, particularly the Piscataway site.
  7. We are working with Brenda Allen, a doctoral candidate with the Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis, to help us understand possible land use impacts on our numbers, and help us prioritize where we start our on-the-ground sleuthing;
  8. We are working with a start-up technology company to deploy a water-based drone that can travel the Raritan catching samples as-needed. They will deploy the drone within the next few weeks.

We continue to build a research program to better understand risks, and in this regard we are working to get Middlesex County Health involved. With EPA now very invested, we hope that with the IDEXX vs. membrane filtration comparison study we’ll be able to convince NJDEP to work with us (and our data) as well.