In 2023 LRWP will be taking on an ambitious new project to create a quality educational video series that can be used with our in-person water quality monitoring training. Please consider the opportunity to underwrite one of these video releases as a way to support our community engagement work. Each video project will be limited to one donor at $300 each who will be named in the thank yous at the end of their chosen video project. The videos will be featured in a variety of community outreach and education settings and will be produced in both English and Spanish, narrated by 14-year old Abraham Moratti, a LRWP Watershed Week Summer Institute participant.
Did you miss the premiere of our introductory “Orientation to Stream Monitoring” video at the Holiday Potluck? You are in luck – it’s now up on YouTube!
Video themes seeking sponsorship include:
1) Epifaunal Substrate / Available Habitat – Epifaunal substrate refers to in-stream fish habitat, or structures such as submerged logs, large rocks, undercut banks, and other stable habitat features. WITH THANKS TO JOHNNY & PAULINA QUISPE
2) Embeddedness – The second habitat parameter, embeddedness, refers to the amount of sands and sediments that bury rocks in the bottom of your stream. IN MEMORY OF MARY ANN ZIMMERMAN
3) Stream Velocity and Depth Combinations – Stream velocity and depth is assessed using four relative categories of velocity and depth. WITH THANKS TO ANONYMOUS
4) Sediment Deposition – Streams deposit sediments naturally in their slow moving areas. Sediments include things like silt, sands and gravels.
5) Channel Flow Status – Our fifth habitat parameter, channel flow status, assesses the water level within a stream.
6) Channel Alteration – Channel alteration refers to human modifications of the stream channel within your 300-foot site.
7) Frequency of riffles – Riffles are indications of rocky substrate, and are good source of oxygenation for macroinvertebrates, so assessing them is important.
8) Bank Stability – Bank stability assesses the areas of erosion and steepness of banks.
9) Bank Vegetative Protection – Bank vegetation considers the amount of natural vegetation that exists on our stream banks.
10) Riparian Vegetation Zone Width – Much like bank vegetation, riparian vegetation is the natural vegetation that exists along either side of the stream.
If you would like to underwrite one of these projects please fill out the form below with the required information, check the box of your preferred underwriting video theme, and send to info AT lowerraritanwatershed DOT org. We have received funding for our first three videos, and will honor preferences for the remaining videos on a first come first serve basis.
We had a wonderful year! See below for an update. Our accomplishments are realized with many thanks to you for the gifts of time and financial support.
Water Quality Monitoring: Raritan River Pathogens Sampling
In partnership with Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and the Interstate Environmental Commission, the LRWP wrapped up our 4th year of civic science pathogens sampling and reporting for non-swimming public access beach sites along the Raritan River. The project has evolved, including expansion of Spanish-language volunteer engagement and a pathogens genetics study partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency. We received NJSeaGrant funds for our project “Advancing techniques to source track fecal microbes in estuarine and coastal waters to engage civic scientists” to continue this work through 2024. In Summer 2023 our real-time data reporting on both the LRWP website www.lowerraritanwatershed.org and Rutgers Hydrological database https://tessera.rutgers.edu/rrho/ will be in both English and Spanish.
Community Boat Build
In March we moved into our new boat build space at 101 Raritan Avenue in Highland Park! Volunteers developed woodworking skills, building paddles and ‘stable recreational’ rowing vessels that will serve as the inaugural fleet for a youth rowing program. Grant funding was provided by the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners through a grant award from the Middlesex County Cultural and Arts Trust Fund, made possible by funds from Middlesex County, a partner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Stop by through January 30 to see paddles on display. Or better yet, register on our events page to join a build on Wednesday evenings or Saturday mornings: https://lowerraritanwatershed.org/events/
Water Quality Monitoring: Stream Assessments
With thanks to the eyes and ears of dozens of wonderful volunteers, we wrapped up the 6th year of our Streamkeeper “stream adoption” program. Through this on-going program, Streamkeepers monitor the streams and tributaries that feed the Raritan River and provide data that helps us understand threats to our waterways, giving us insight into how to prioritize locations for clean-ups, restoration, and more. Covid made clear the need for more remote educational materials, and this year we produced the first of eleven instructional videos on the “how-tos” of stream monitoring (in English and Spanish). Please let us know if you can support this important educational outreach effort, we seek sponsorship of $300 per video to complete the series.
MS4 Stormwater Management Assistance Program
We love working with municipal partners in Highland Park and New Brunswick to improve water quality, reduce pollutant flows, and meet federal educational requirements for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) mandated under the Clean Water Act. This included creating municipal stormwater management webpages, the “Soak Up the Rain” newsletter for municipal residents, coordinating clean-ups, rain barrel builds, stream assessments, and continuing education for K-12 educators and others.
Looking forward to 2023…Watershed Restoration
Trash Traps. In 2023, in partnership with the Borough of Dunellen and with settlement funds from the Cornell Dubilier Superfund site, we will implement a “Trash Trap” litter collection device in the Green Brook downstream from the Plainfield Transfer Station. Installation will coincide with development of metrics to assess device impact on plastics and trash reduction, and we welcome volunteers to join us for clean-up days for these assessments. South River Ecosystem Restoration. We are nearing completion of engineered design for restoration of a 165-acre coastal eco-park along the South River and now seek funds for project implementation. Clean-ups: Lots of clean-ups on the calendar for 2023 including in Franklin Township, New Brunswick, Highland Park, and Dunellen!
“The trip on the lower Raritan really moved me. I especially felt it the next day when I was driving over the parkway bridge, which I’ve done hundreds or possibly thousands of times since I was a kid…but this time was was different. I think there was always somewhat of a cringe feeling when I saw all the industry there, the smoke/steam, a blighted landscape…but when I was on the bridge after the boat ride, I looked over and felt, Oh! I know that place now! That’s where the eagles and osprey and herons and egret are, all that rich biodiversity and some beautiful marshland that I’d just realized was right there! And I seriously felt something shift in my heart – it was definitely a visceral shift – almost like the Grinch when his heart grew – and I knew I was a different (richer, happier, more hopeful) person now. It was such a wonderful surprise to feel all of this! Thank you and the LRWP for providing this experience to us, and for all you to care for the natural world.”
-Jacki Dickert, photographer
Recreational Access to the Raritan
Studio course with Rutgers. Spring 2023 the LRWP will partner on a graduate studio through which students will put Disability Justice at the center of strategic partnership and planning to improve recreational accessibility for the New Brunswick, Rutgers, and larger communities. The projects include: 1) initial concept development for a “Missing Link Bridge” connecting the New Brunswick Boyd Park waterfront to the D&R Canal and increasing access to an additional 70+ miles of trail; and 2) integrating Universal Access and landscape management design (soil erosion control) for a planned accessible path through the Rutgers Ecological Preserve. These projects have been prioritized for implementation as part of the “Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Cornell Dubilier Electronics, Inc. Superfund Site,” by the Cornell-Dubilier Electronics, Inc. Trustee Council.
General Environmental Education & Outreach
As always, we welcome community members to join for water quality monitoring, trips on the Rutgers Research Vessel, moonlight paddles on the Raritan, “hidden streams” walking tours, environmental education, clean-ups, rain barrel builds, and so much more. Events listings are on our website: https://lowerraritanwatershed.org/events/
On display in the generous windows at 101 Raritan Avenue, Highland Park are paddles built as part of the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership’s paddle build workshops. The display will run November 15 through the end of January 2023.
We will also display paddles at our annual holiday party Friday December 9, 5:30-8:30 pm at the Reformed Church in New Brunswick. At this event artists will be at the event to talk about their work. Highland Park resident and out Boat Build lead, Captain Derek Hartwick, will also be at the event to answer questions about the LRWP’s boat build program.
Article and Photos by Rutgers Research Vessel Captain Chip Haldeman
In March of 2022, Rutgers junior and Leadership Scholar at the Institute for Women’s Leadership Kirstin Slattery inquired about the possibility of a trip aboard the R/V Rutgers along the Raritan River. She had been tasked with developing a social action plan centered around a personal passion, and as an environmental policy major, the Raritan River and its storied history were a perfect fit.
Kirstin reached out to R/V Rutgers Captain Chip Haldeman and initiated discussions in relation to what’s involved, how much it costs, and most importanly, what she’s interested in accomplishing. Feeling perhaps a bit of deja vu, Captain Chip connected Kirstin w/ Dr. Heather Fenyk, Board President and de facto Executive Director of the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership. Dr. Fenyk, one of our resident experts on history and current policies affecting the Raritan River, agreed to accompany the IWL scholars aboard and share her expertise. Additionally, Kirstin was also invited aboard by Dr. Fenyk for LRWP’s annual trip prior to her own discussing similar areas of interest and introducing new concepts as well.
Fast forward to October 28th, and Kirstin’s vision, dedication, and planning had come to fruition. Not only had she arranged the scheduling and logistics for the trip, but she had also secured the necessary funding for the vessel’s operation. This can often be a daunting task, but challenges are meant to be overcome, and this now-Rutgers senior delivered. Dr. Jeffra Schaefer, a professor in Rutgers’ Department of Environmental Sciences, volunteered to serve as deckhand, offering further expertise. Dr. Schaefer and Dr. Fenyk are the embodiment of women in leadership roles; perfect examples for aspiring Scarlet Knights. Many thanks to both for volunteering their time. The trip itself was informative and educational – the bonus being perfect weather and beautiful fall colors along the banks – but not without its obstacles. Moon phases and tides had conspired to flood the Rutgers crew boathouse docks, so the R/V Rutgers once again utilized its landing craft ability to board passengers on the banks of the Raritan near Boyd park. The remainder of the trip went off without a hitch, returning as planned and disembarking at the boathouse, just prior to RU crew’s afternoon practice. Congratulations, Kirstin, on a job well done. Truly a moment for Rutgers to be proud!
Following the devastating flooding caused by Hurricane Ida many Lower Raritan Watershed communities want to know more about how good stormwater management can help minimize future flood impacts and damages. This video recaps the LRWP’s workshop held 10.6.2022 with NJFuture’s Brianne Callahan talking about stormwater utilities, an innovative strategy for municipalities to use to bring awareness to the role of land use choices on flooding and water quality, and to prompt community action to improve stormwater management.