by LRWP Outreach Monitoring 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 along the Raritan River. We collect water quality samples at non-bathing public access beach sites, provide our samples to the Interstate Environmental Commission for analysis in their laboratory, and report the results to the public on Friday afternoons.
Our water quality samples taken on August 17, 2023 show Enterococcus bacteria levels exceed the EPA federal water quality standard at our three upstream sites this week. Problem sites are indicated by red frowns on the map and chart: Riverside Park (Piscataway), Rutgers Boathouse (New Brunswick), Edison Boat Basin (Edison), Ken Buchanan Waterfront Park (Sayreville). Green smiles on the chart and map indicate sites with bacteria levels safe for recreation which includes: South Amboy Waterfront Park (South Amboy), and 2nd Street Park (Perth Amboy).
Enterococcus and Fecal Coliform levels are used as indicators for the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria in recreational waters. Many beaches and rivers have placed health advisories, and even closed, due to the high levels of fecal coliform in the waters across New Jersey these past few weeks. Such pathogens may pose health risks to people fishing and swimming in a water body. Possible sources of bacteria include Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), improperly functioning wastewater treatment plants, leaking septic systems, and stormwater run off.
Our goal in reporting these results is to give area residents an understanding of potential health risks related to primary contact (touching) the water during water based recreation. Always remember to wash thoroughly after enjoying your weekend activities on the Raritan!
Broken clouds this Thursday morning…we had a visitor attentively watch over us at our first monitoring site in Piscataway’s Riverside Park, Photo Credit: Jocelyn Palomino
The docks at Rutgers Boathouse were being power-washed before we grabbed our samples, which may be the reason enterococcus results are high at this site this week, Photo Credit: Rose Lawless
A tall, great blue heron waiting for us on the dock where we collect our sample…what a great day to be out monitoring! Photo Credit: Rose Lawless
Messy docks once again as we reach our fourth site of the day, Ken Buchanan Riverfront Park in Sayreville, Photo Credit: Jocelyn Palomino (left), Rose Lawless (right)
Genevieve Ehasz waded into the water this week to collect our samples, while the rest of the volunteers collectively gathered data from the shore, Photo Credit: Rose Lawless