Thank you, Ella!!

Gabriella (Ella) Robinson, a freshman at Seton Hall and former resident of Piscataway, has earned her Gold Award after completing over 80 hours of community service in partnership with the Lower Raritan Partnership, the 4H Club, Jack and Jill of America, the Central NJ chapter, and the township of Piscataway and Middlesex County. The Girl Scout Gold Award is presented to fewer than 6 percent of Girl Scouts annually.

Ella’s Gold Award Project, called “Go Green Central New Jersey,” was designed around bringing awareness to the water pollution of the Raritan River. Go Green Central New Jersey’s goal is to protect the Raritan River Watershed and educate residents about the importance of environment at Raritan via cleanups and other community environmental stewardship opportunities. She also created a rain garden in Columbus Park in Piscataway.

Gabriella faced a great deal of adversity to accomplish Gold Award distinction. Working on the award since 2019, she worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Hurricane Ida nearly curtailed her plans and she had to move the location of the rain garden because the original location was flooded because of Ida.

“This award is important because it shows not only the importance of each of us helping the environment but why community partners are so important,” explained Gabriella. Gabriella will attend Seton Hall University in the School of Diplomacy and International Affairs where she hopes to make a difference on the global scale.

August 18, 2022 Raritan Pathogen Results

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.

The low tide at Rutgers Boathouse allowed us to observe a small herd of deer wandering along the river bank, Photo Credits: Genevieve Ehasz
This week’s monitoring crew working together at the Edison Boat Launch, Photo Credits: Andrew Gehman
The team gathered data while on a messy dock at our Ken Buchanan Site, Photo Credits: Andrew Gehman

Captured one of our amazing volunteers Andrew Gehman wading into our monitoring site in Perth Amboy (2nd St. Park), Photo Credits: Genevieve Ehasz

August 11, 2022 Raritan Pathogen Results

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.

After weeks of dry conditions and intense heat we finally received 0.37 inches of rain Thursday morning just before our volunteer sampling. The “first flush” of rain after a dry spell typically washes a lot of muck off our land surfaces and into our waters, and we often see higher bacterial levels. This is the case this week for our August 11, 2022 samples, which show our most upstream and downstream sites exceeding the EPA federal quality standard for primary contact, indicated by the red frowns on the map and chart: Riverside Park (Piscataway) and 2nd Street Park (Perth Amboy). The “green smileys” represent the sites with pathogen levels that are below the standard for recreation: Rutgers Boathouse (New Brunswick), Ken Buchanan Waterfront Park (Edison), South Amboy Waterfront Park (South Amboy).

Suitable levels for primary contact should not exceed 104 cfu/100mL. Per the EPA, Pathogens/Enterococci levels are used as indicators of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria in recreational waters. Possible 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. As always, if you choose to recreate on the Raritan this weekend, stay safe and please be sure to wash your hands!

Many thanks to our partners, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and Interstate Environmental Commission, and to our great group of volunteers! See here for more information on our pathogens monitoring program.

Spotted two Great Blue Herons flying across the Raritan while we sampled at our Rutgers Boathouse site, Photo Credits: Andrew Gehman

While the group was monitoring at our Edison site, Frank Dahl spoke to a friendly local we often encounter cleaning up trash left behind at the docks, Photo Credits: Andrew Gehman

Genevieve Ehasz took the opportunity to collect goose poop samples for Farhenfeld Lab while the monitoring team was at the Ken Buchanan Boat Launch in Sayreville, Photo Credits: Andrew Gehman

Cristian Sanlatte volunteered to wade into our Perth Amboy site to collect data using our YSI monitoring instrument, Photo Credits: Andrew Gehman

Harmful Algal Blooms on the Raritan

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) sampling conducted at Landing Lane Bridge along the Raritan River on July 27, 2022 indicates MODERATE HEALTH RISKS associated with the presence of harmful algal bloom (HAB) in the water.

The water body advisory for presence of HAB microcystins warns against primary contact (swimming or wading or directly touching the water) for both humans and pets, and against drinking the water or consumption of fish caught in the water. Harmful algal blooms could lead to serious health risks. If you or your pet have had primary contact with the water, please wash with fresh water immediately.

Testing of the water late in July found dangerous levels of microcystins, a class of toxins produced by certain freshwater cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae. According to the DEP, these microorganisms could pose a high risk of health effects, including abdominal pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting and nausea, dry cough, diarrhea, blistering around the mouth, pneumonia and liver toxicity.

Children and pets are particularly vulnerable because they ingest more water in relation to their weight.

More information is available on the searchable NJDEP website:

https://njdep.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/49190166531d4e5a811c9a91e4a41677

The Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership is keeping an eye on things, and will post notices at locations with observable HABS or at locations indicated as problematic by NJDEP.

How can you reduce the risk of dog poisoning by cyanobacterial toxins?

• If possible, keep your dog on a leash near shorelines.

• Don’t let dogs wade, drink the water or eat/walk in beach debris.

• If your dog goes in the water please remove them immediately.

• Don’t let them lick their fur or paws after getting out of the water.

• Rinse/wash them thoroughly with fresh water from a safe source if available. (i.e. bottled water or household garden hose). Otherwise a towel or rag can be used to remove algal debris.

• Use rubber gloves during pet cleaning, if possible.

• Dry them thoroughly with a clean towel or rag.

• Wash your hands with fresh water.

• Please notify the public health department or state natural resource management agency if you observe a suspected HAB.

August 04, 2022 Raritan Pathogen Results

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 beaches 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 water quality results for this Thursday August 4, 2022 indicate relatively clean levels of water at most of our sites. However, our most upstream site (Riverside Park, Piscataway) suggests the levels of Enterococcus exceed the federal standard for primary contact, indicated by the red frowns on the map and chart. The “green smileys” represent pathogen levels below the EPA’s federal quality standard for recreation.

Suitable levels for primary contact should not exceed 104 cfu/100mL. Per the EPA, Pathogens/Enterococci levels are used as indicators of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria in recreational waters. Possible sources of bacteria include Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), improperly functioning wastewater treatment ps, 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. If you choose to recreate on the Raritan this weekend, stay safe and please be sure to wash your hands!

Big thanks to our partners, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and Interstate Environmental Commission, and to our amazing volunteers who came out this week! See here for more information on our pathogens monitoring program.

As we arrived at our monitoring site at Rutgers, we couldn’t help but notice how low the water was despite the flood tide, Photo Credit: Andrew Gehman

Our hardworking monitoring team caught in action at the Edison Boat Launch, Photo Credits: Jocelyn Palomino

Arrived at the Ken Buchanan Waterfront Park just in time to catch a local resident using the Raritan for a solo boating trip, Photo Credits: Andrew Gehman

The new and improved mural at 2nd St. Park Waterfront thanks to Perth Amboy’s own students and Joel Rosa, Photo Credit: Frank Dahl

July 28, 2022 Raritan Pathogen Results

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 beaches along the Raritan River, provide our samples to the Interstate Environmental Commission lab for analysis, and report the results on Friday afternoons. Our water quality results for July 28, 2022 indicate high levels of Enterococcus at both our most upstream site at Riverside Park in Piscataway, and at our most downstream site at Perth Amboy 2nd Street Park. These are indicated by red frowns on the map and chart.

The “green smileys” on the map and chart for all other sites mean pathogen levels were below the federal quality standard for recreation at these locations. Suitable levels for primary contact should not exceed 104 cfu/100mL. Per the EPA, Pathogens/Enterococci levels are used as indicators of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria in recreational waters. Possible 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. If you choose to recreate on the Raritan this weekend, stay safe and be sure to wash your hands!

As always, many thanks to the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and Interstate Environmental Commission for their partnership, and to our great group of volunteers this week! See here for more information on our pathogens monitoring program.

Our volunteers Frank and Julisa helping Jocelyn document observations at our Piscataway monitoring site, Photo Credit: Andrew Gehman

At our Piscataway and Rutgers locations, we noticed algal blooms, a sign of warmer summer temperatures, Photo Credits: Andrew Gehman

It appears that some younger residents were out enjoying the South Amboy Waterfront over the week, leaving a small sandcastle along the path to our monitoring location, Photo Credits: Andrew Gehman

Our volunteer Andrew was able to capture this photo of our monitoring crew near the Perth Amboy CSO, while he was out in the water catching samples, Photo Credit: Andrew Gehman

Raritan Landscape Reemergence: Awakening Lyell’s Brook Through Dance

Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership (LRWP) and Rock Dance Collective are proud to present “Raritan Landscape Reemergence: Awakening Lyell’s Brook Through Dance”, a short filmed movement rhapsody that educates and engages audiences around connection and access to the Raritan River in central New Jersey as part of #lookfortheriver. This project features world premiere choreography by Rock Dance Collective artistic directors Cleo Mack and Blair Ritchie, building off of their decade of work in the region creating sensory experiences using sculpture, sound, and movement for audiences of all ages. The movement based work was filmed along the Lyell’s Brook corridor in the Lower Raritan Watershed and culminates at the newly installed #lookfortheriver sculptural FRAME at Boyd Park, in New Brunswick, NJ. The movement piece and frame work in concert to showcase the potential for new interactions between people, the built environment, and the natural landscape.

This project features world premiere choreography by Rock Dance Collective artistic directors Cleo Mack and Blair Ritchie, building off of their decade of work in the region creating sensory experiences using sculpture, sound, and movement for audiences of all ages. The movement based work was filmed along the Lyell’s Brook corridor in the Lower Raritan Watershed and culminates at the newly installed #lookfortheriver sculptural FRAME at Boyd Park, in New Brunswick, NJ. The movement piece and frame work in concert to showcase the potential for new interactions between people, the built environment, and the natural landscape.

The piece was filmed and edited and released two weeks prior to City of Water Day 2022 as part of outreach for City of Water Day in-person events throughout the New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuary. Rock Dance Collective works in both nontraditional and traditional spaces, responding to societal and environmental stimuli to create meaningful works. In addition to the filmed based work, Rock Dance Collective created an epilogue that was performed live at the Lower Raritan Watershed City of Water Day in-person convening at New Brunswick’s Boyd Park. 

This project is part of a multi-year collaboration between community partners, non-profit civic science organizations, city agencies, and socially engaged artists to create impact oriented artistic response projects that advance strategic planning goals of the Lower Raritan Watershed. In 2017 Rock Dance Collective, in partnership with coLAB Arts and LRWP, created an original piece on the Raritan River waterfront titled A Watershed Moment showcasing the historic and contemporary usages of the largest river in NJ.

LRWP and Rock Dance Collective continue their collaboration through active planning of a “Watershed Run-Off” project which will feature an environmental “smart mob” land contour and stormwater flows demonstration project for the City of New Brunswick, NJ. “The Run Off” is both a community stormwater planning exercise and a collaborative public performance. It is designed to engage City residents and those who work, attend school, visit and/or recreate in New Brunswick in stormwater management planning processes, interspersed with public performance events.

Grant funding has been provided by the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners through a grant award from Middlesex County Cultural and Arts Trust Fund.

July 21, 2022 Raritan Pathogens Results

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 beaches along the Raritan River, and report the results on Friday afternoons.

Our current drought conditions mean it’s another full set of green smiley faces for our Raritan River for July 21, 2022! Pathogens results run by the Interstate Environmental Commission (IEC) lab suggest Enterococcus bacteria levels below the federal water quality standard for recreation at ALL of our sites (indicated by lots of “green smiley faces” on the map below). These sites include Riverside Park (Piscataway), Rutgers Boathouse (New Brunswick), Edison Boat Ramp, Ken Buchanan Waterfront Park (Edison), South Amboy Waterfront Park, and 2nd Street Park (Perth Amboy).

July 21, 2022 Pathogens Results
Please note: these results are preliminary and awaiting quality control

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.

As always, many thanks to the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and Interstate Environmental Commission for their partnership, and to our amazing volunteers this week! See here for more information on our pathogens monitoring program.

Doreen Camardi and Julisa Collado collecting data at the Rutgers Boat House, Photo Credit: Andrew Gehman
While Doreen and Julisa recorded field observations, Jocelyn took the opportunity to get a better look at an eagle that was flying by, Photo Credit: Andrew Gehman
Spotted a few residents enjoying the South Amboy Waterfront despite the high temperature, Photo Credit: Andrew Gehman

July 14, 2022 Raritan Pathogens Results

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!

Our team of volunteers at the Rutgers Boat House, Photo Credit: Cristian Sanlatte
This picture was taken right by the outfall at the Rutgers Boat House, where the water appeared to leave a very greasy trail, Photo Credit: Andrew Gehman
While gathering data, Frank Dahl spotted a Great Blue Heron flying across the river at the Edison Boat Launch, Photo Credits: Cristian Sanlatte
Students working with Perth Amboy’s Joel Rosa to beautify the Perth Amboy Waterfront, Photo Credits: Andrew Gehman
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