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.
With the scattered rain we’ve had across the area this week, our water quality samples taken on September 28, 2023 show Enterococcus bacteria levels exceed the EPA federal water quality standard at four of our sites. However, the expected rain and runoff for this weekend will likely affect these results. Problem sites are indicated by red frowns on the map and chart which includes: Riverside Park (Piscataway), Rutgers Boathouse (New Brunswick), Edison Boat Basin (Edison), and Ken Buchanan Waterfront Park (Sayreville). Green smiles on the chart and map indicate sites with bacteria levels safe for recreation and include: 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. Such pathogens may pose health risks to eople 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!
Although it was a chilly morning, our volunteers for the week made sure to bundle up for the weather, Photo Credit: Heather Fenyk
Genevieve and Irene collecting data ashore our South Amboy site, Photo Credit: Frank Dahl
Piash put the waders on this week to use our monitoring equipment, Photo Credit: Frank Dahl
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for our stickers with a QR code to our results! Photo Credit: Heather Fenyk