By LRWP Monitoring Outreach Coordinator Jocelyn Palomino
The Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County run a volunteer pathogens monitoring program from May to September every Summer. On Thursdays we collect water quality samples at 6 non-bathing public access beach sites along the Raritan River, provide our samples to the Interstate Environmental Commission lab for analysis, and report the results for the public on Friday afternoons.
Our pathogen results for August 18, 2022 suggests two of our upstream sites exceed federal water quality standard for recreation, represented by the red frowns on the map and chart: Riverside Park (Piscataway) and Rutgers Boathouse (New Brunswick). The “green smileys” for all other the sites mean Enterococcus bacteria levels are below the EPA federal standard for recreation at these locations: Edison Boathouse, Ken Buchanan Waterfront Park (Edison), South Amboy Waterfront Park (South Amboy), and 2nd Street Park (Perth Amboy).
Suitable levels for primary contact should not exceed 104 cfu/100mL. Per the EPA’s federal water quality standard for CFU primary contact, Pathogens/Enterococci levels are used as indicators of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria in recreational waters. 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. Such pathogens may pose health risks to people fishing and swimming in a water body.
Big thanks to the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and the Interstate Environmental Commission for their partnership, and to our monitoring volunteers that came out this week! See here for more information on our pathogens monitoring program.
Captured one of our amazing volunteers Andrew Gehman wading into our monitoring site in Perth Amboy (2nd St. Park), Photo Credits: Genevieve Ehasz