By 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 beaches along the
Raritan River, and report the results on Friday afternoons. Our pathogens results for July 14, 2022 suggest Enterococcus bacteria levels below the federal water quality standard for recreation at the majority of our sites indicated by a “green smiley face” on the map below. These sites include Riverside Park (Piscataway), Rutgers Boathouse (New Brunswick), Ken Buchanan Waterfront Park (Edison), South Amboy Waterfront Park, and 2nd Street Park (Perth Amboy). Enterococcus bacteria levels at our Edison Boat Ramp site (indicated by a “red frown face” on the map) were higher than the federal water quality standard and these waters are not safe to use for recreation.
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 our partners Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and Interstate Environmental Commission, and to our crew of monitoring volunteers this week! See here for more information on our pathogens monitoring program. As always, if you choose to recreate on the water this weekend, stay safe, and be sure to wash your hands!