Raritan River Pathogens Results 7.8.2021 and Invite to City of Water Day 7.10.2021

The Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County run a pathogens monitoring season running from May to September every Summer. Every Thursday we collect water quality samples at 6 non-bathing public access beaches along the Raritan River, and we report out the results on Friday afternoons. See here for more information on our pathogens monitoring program. Below are our monitoring results from July 8, 2021. Please remember that we received significant rainfall yesterday and today associated with Tropical Storm Elsa, the rain coming after our monitoring activity. The numbers look much better than they might have had we sampled this morning. As always, many thanks to the Interstate Environmental Commission fro lab analysis and support, and special thanks to our wonderful volunteers.

Yesterday our Community Outreach Coordinator Jocelyn Palomino was interviewed by Telemundo! Jocelyn spoke with the Telemundo reporters about the impact of precipitation and storms like Tropical Storm Elsa on pathogens levels and water quality in locations with combined sewer outfalls, like our monitoring site near 2nd Street Park in Perth Amboy (see photo below). Part of Jocelyn’s outreach for Summer 2021 involves connecting with Spanish-language communities to engage in volunteer water quality monitoring activities and bringing attention to Raritan River (and Bay) recreational opportunities.

PLEASE JOIN US JULY 10 for CITY OF WATER DAY!!! Speaking of Raritan River recreational activities, tomorrow, Saturday July 9, 2021 Jocelyn will be at 2nd Street Park, joining Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources, the City of Perth Amboy, and Perth Amboy SWIM for City of Water Day! Celebrate City of Water Day by participating in a variety of activities targeted towards Perth Amboy residents from ages 16 and up! Participants will be educated on the basic structure of a combined sewer system and a brief description of Perth Amboy’s system will be presented as well. Kayaking and water sampling (fecal coliforms) will also be available with an explaination to be given to attendees of why the water may be cleaner or dirtier on that given day due to the outfall at the end of Second Street. Kayaks will be available to use for a designated amount of time and water sampling participants will use two kits to collect 20 samples from either the shoreline or while they are kayaking. The participants who collect the samples will be emailed a description of the results when they are determined.

Earth Overshoot Day 2021

By LRWP #lookfortheriver Outreach Coordinator Anjali Madgula

Timescales 

When we talk about human caused climate change, often we are talking about time. How much time does it take for a global ecosystem to undergo significant change? How much time does it take for pollution to affect a local community, a whole country, and then a global ecosystem? How much time do our plastics spend in our hands, in a landfill, in an ocean, in the stomach of a sea creature, and as a toxic substance spreading into our communities and bodies? And how much time do we have, to implement change and achieve just and sustainable living conditions for all?

Often, climate issues have to be approached in unique and creative ways because of their slow moving yet massive impacts. In his book, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, Rob Nixon outlines the concept of slow violence, which he defines as the “delayed destruction” that is character of climate disasters that span over decades and centuries, occurring through everyday toxic buildup and greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike violence that is immediate, visible, and sudden, the slow violence of environmental degradation is much more difficult to draw attention to in everyday media, despite being seriously capable of damage. Nixon writes, “How can we turn the long emergencies of slow violence into stories dramatic enough to rouse public sentiment and warrant political intervention, these emergencies whose repercussions have given rise to some of the most critical challenges of our time?” (Slow Violence, 3). 

Earth Overshoot Day

People across disciplines are using narratives, statistics, and actions to make visible the long term scale of the climate crisis alongside the need for carbon heavy countries to decarbonize and transform their infrastructure in the immediate present. In 2006, an organization called Global Footprint Network created the concept of Earth Overshoot Day. Earth Overshoot annually calculates the calendar date for when the amount of our resource consumption for that year exceeds the amount of the Earth’s biocapacity (the amount of resources generated by Earth that year). The GFN’s work showcases the climate story across the human and nonhuman in the unique frame of just one year’s biocapacity and consumption. 

In the past few decades, Earth Overshoot Day has moved steadily from the middle of October closer to the end of July, meaning not only that we are consistently consuming way more than the Earth generates per year but also that we are consuming more every year. Only in 2020, did Earth Overshoot Day get pushed to August 22nd due to a decrease in our annual ecological footprint from the first half of the COVID pandemic. However, in 2021, the calculations remain on par with the previous trend: Earth Overshoot Day will be on July 29, 2021. 

The GFN also calculates an individual country’s Overshoot Day, which tells us when Earth Overshoot Day would fall if the whole world consumed like that country does. If everyone consumed in the manner that the United States of America does, Earth Overshoot Day would have been on March 14, 2021, just barely three months into the year. 

In examining these statistics, it is important to reflect on where the onus for climate action lies and how carbon heavy countries harm countries with lower consumption rates on multiple levels, through overburdening the global climate but also by establishing industries and toxic activities in marginalized communities across the world.

Reflection through Local Restoration

Reflecting on the implications of Earth Overshoot Day during this extremely hot summer, invites me to ground myself in the work and movement building of our local communities in New Jersey and the Lower Raritan Watershed. While a global framing is essential, we can document changes in our own ecosystems and build community around stewardship and advocacy to make restoration and resilience possible. We can engage in discussions about resources, energy, and carbon emissions, by drawing attention to the specific issues and experiences of our community here. In order to have the greatest impact, it is important to have as many community members involved! 

During the month of July which is marked by the 2021 Earth Overshoot Day on July 29, we can get involved with the new and continued programming of our watershed. The LRWP’s #lookfortheriver campaign has a new instagram page (@lookfortheriver) where you can be up to date with the citizen science work of the FRAMES sculpture in Boyd Park and other #lookfortheriver activities. The LRWP is also launching a stormwater management assistance program to help townships meet their federally mandated stormwater management education requirements. 

These programs, amongst others, create spaces for us to navigate the global ecological crisis by protecting the ecosystems we have made a home within. 

Citations 

Nixon, Rob. Slow VIolence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, 2013.
“Earth Overshoot Day” , overshootday.org, July 2021.

The LRWP welcomes Anjali Madgula!

Hello! My name is Anjali and I am a recent graduate of Rutgers University with a major in English Literature and minors in Creative Writing and Environmental Policy. I am excited to be working with the LRWP on community outreach for the #lookfortheriver project and the pilot MS4 municipal stormwater management assistance program as it rolls out in Highland Park. The MS4 stormwater assistance program is designed to help townships in meeting their federally mandated stormwater management outreach requirements. The program seeks to communicate with residents by solidifying a network for direct and accessible stormwater management education that highlights the serious impacts of stormwater runoff on our communities. More on this soon!

My background includes hub coordinator for Sunrise Movement Rutgers, through which I’ve led training, created social media campaigns, and planned direct actions with local coalitions for environmental justice. I’ve also worked on outreach for climate strikes, divestment campaigns, and faculty union advocacy during my time as a Rutgers student and a member of the Rutgers Climate Task Force Student Advisory Panel. 

Through my academic work with environmental humanities, I am passionate about reading and writing narratives that don’t treat the environment as a separate story but as one that is completely entangled in our own culture, desires, and everyday lives. I was the recipient of the James Suydam Prize in English and the Evelyn Hamilton Award in Non-Fiction for the Spring 2021 Rutgers English Department Awards. I’ve also written about avenues for movement building as a staff writer for both UnpublishedZine and The Rutgers Green Print. To check out my publications, click here! https://linktr.ee/anjalim 

In my free time, I enjoy dancing, watching animated television shows, and making cottage cheese chocolate chip pancakes with my friends. I love meeting new people so feel free to reach out to me at anjalimadgula@gmail.com

City of Water Day – Celebrate in Perth Amboy!

Saturday July 10, the LRWP will join our Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program friends who are hosting a “Kayaking on the Raritan” City of Water Day event in Perth Amboy.

Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program has planned a variety of activities targeted towards Perth Amboy residents from ages 16 and up! Participants will be educated on the basic structure of a combined sewer system and a brief description of Perth Amboy’s system will be presented as well. Kayaking and water sampling (fecal coliforms) will also be available with an explanation to be given to attendees of why the water may be cleaner or dirtier on that given day due to the outfall at the end of Second Street.

Kayaks will be available to use for a designated amount of time and water sampling participants will use two kits to collect 20 samples from either the shoreline or while they are kayaking. The participants who collect the samples will be emailed a description of the results when they are determined. Brochures describing CSOs and green infrastructure and an email sign-up will be provided for people to join Perth Amboy SWIM or the Perth Amboy Green Team to stay engaged on this matter. This event is in participation with City of Perth Amboy, Perth Amboy Green Team, and Perth Amboy SWIM.

Location40.50035, -74.27699

Learn Morehttp://water.rutgers.edu

Happy 4th of July! Monitoring Results for 7.1.2021

Another pretty good week of results from our pathogen monitoring. While our downstream sites are within limits, the Piscataway site continues to give us trouble with very high enterococcus and fecal coliform TNTC or “Too Numerous To Count.” Yikes! We received .7 inch of precipitation since sampling, which likely means the pathogens count will be higher at all sites.

Many thanks to our Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County, and Interstate Environmental Commission partners, and special thanks to our wonderful volunteers!! See here for more information on our pathogens monitoring program. Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend Everyone!

June Update from the Boat Shop

Saturday June 19 was the last day of the women’s “build your own paddle” workshop. Big thanks to Amber Hennes and Sarah Tomasello for jumping in to lead this absolutely amazing program, and to the great group of ladies who joined us for the pilot program. We all learned a lot, and just look at these beautiful paddles!!

The clock is ticking on our Fresh Grocer space downtown New Brunswick – a big shout out to the New Brunswick Parking Authority for allowing us to take over this facility for a wonderful six months of paddle building, boat building and community building. Keep your fingers crossed for Captain Derek Hartwick and our LRWP team – we’re hoping to soon find a new permanent location for boat building, rowing program development, and more.

Raritan River Pathogens Monitoring Results for 6.17.2021

Our lab is looking into possible holding time issues with a few of our samples for 6.17.2021, which would mean that our Edison and Sayreville results might have to be thrown out. HOWEVER, it is looking like green smiles across the board for the first time since we started our Raritan River pathogens monitoring program! (See here for more information on our pathogens monitoring program). As always, huge thanks to our Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and Interstate Environmental Commission partners, and to our amazing volunteers! Happy Father’s Day Weekend!!

Summer Rain

Article and photos by Joe Mish

The gentle summer rain falling on the reflective water, lined with muted shades of gray and green foliage, combine to create a scene so peaceful, you must remember to take a next breath.

The gentle summer rain falling on the reflective water, lined with muted shades of gray and green foliage, combine to create a scene so peaceful, you must remember to take a next breath.

The mid-summer sunlight dimmed, as amorphous white clouds, heavy with moisture, washed over the blue sky. Deep shadows settled in among the layers of leaves that blended the crowns of oaks and maples into a coarse, solid green curtain. The leaves of the Norway maples on the outer edge of the woodlot appeared pale matte green in the dim light and hung motionless at a sixty-five-degree angle as the atmosphere held its breath in anticipation of the impending rain.

As the rain began, the earliest errant drops chose random dance partners among the leafy branches. Though not a breeze was evident, individual leaves began to dance while others remained perfectly still. Partners were exchanged and switched until the full burst of rain fell from the clouds to engage all the leaves to move to the rhythm of the falling rain. 

A gentle summer rain is a perfect complement to a warm summer day. Clear blue skies and unfiltered sunshine heat the earth and plants to further warm the air from below. Pollen and dust, at the mercy of the breeze, settle everywhere. 

The heat rising from the earth mixes with the already warmed atmosphere to create a layer of suffocating air. The promise of relief comes, when in late afternoon, billowy white clouds appear on the horizon in dramatic contrast against the unobstructed azure blue sky. The transient clouds, directed by upper atmosphere winds, obscure the sun as they drift across the sky, trailing rain in their wake.  Immediately the stifling temperature falls as cool raindrops hit the dry earth. Each drop a micro explosion, as dust and pollen are washed away and reconstituted into the soil. In the aftermath, on the field where the clash of violent heat transfer and exploding dust particles flew, a veil of white mist hangs low over the battleground as the sunshine returns.  

While the rainfall was sudden, it was expected. In fact, the coming rain was preceded by a distinct odor.

Researchers claim the familiar scent that sometimes fills the air prior to a coming rain is ozone being pulled to earth from high in the atmosphere and most often occurs after a dry spell. 

In the temporary shelter under a full leafed tree, another odor, distinct from the ozone, fills your nostrils. It is best described as organic and to me, smells like what I think rich moist soil smells like. Even without rain, upon entering mature woods there is that same odor, enhanced by the heavy foliage which contains the moisture in the air as it mixes with the natural composting of decaying plant matter. The odor, initially after a rain begins to fall, is from the composting bacteria in the soil mixed with ozone, the combination named petrichor. 

Sun showers are a summer event where magic seems to partner with nature to produce a contradictory reality. The sun shines while the rain falls, no clouds obscure the sun. A meteorological phenomenon that is best left unexplained to be thoroughly enjoyed. Consider it a momentary truce among the elements who constantly clash for dominance in the atmospheric heavens.       

Whether a sun shower, cloud burst or late afternoon thunderstorm, refreshing, best describes a summer rain, it is an invitation to step out and feel the cool gentle rain on your face, and try to catch a few drops on your tongue. It is life, composed mostly of water, who recognizes itself in the heaven sent drops of rain, especially during a warm and gentle summer rain. 

Author Joe Mish has been running wild in New Jersey since childhood when he found ways to escape his mother’s watchful eyes. He continues to trek the swamps, rivers and thickets seeking to share, with the residents and visitors, all of the state’s natural beauty hidden within full view. To read more of his writing and view more of his gorgeous photographs visit Winter Bear Rising, his wordpress blog. Joe’s series “Nature on the Raritan, Hidden in Plain View” runs monthly as part of the LRWP “Voices of the Watershed” series. Writing and photos used with permission from the author. Contact jjmish57@msn.com. See more articles and photos at winterbearrising.wordpress.com.

Petition to Support Development of a Community Boat House on the Raritan River in Middlesex County

The Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership (LRWP) and Friends are petitioning the Commissioners of Middlesex County, New Jersey for development of a community boathouse and launch facility on the Raritan River Waterfront. We have three main objectives:

  1. Protect and store the boats and equipment for Youth and Community Rowing Clubs and for personal human powered watercraft and gear;
  2. Increase access to the Raritan Riverfront for human powered watercraft, including a universal access launch; and
  3. Preserve and increase public access to the Raritan River.

If you share our dream of a more accessible Raritan River, please provide your signature on this petition.

Why should Middlesex County Commissioners support a community boathouse and launch facility on the Raritan River?

Middlesex County is the largest landholder of Raritan River-adjacent land. Public access to the Raritan, and public facilities and opportunities for on-River recreation, are in short supply in Middlesex County.

Who would use a community boathouse and launch facility on the Raritan River?

The building and associated boat storage and launch will provide secure indoor and outdoor facilities for equipment belonging to community, youth, High School, and other rowing clubs.

Facilities will include secure boat and gear storage for personal watercraft, accessible in a “self-store / self-serve” structure.

The public will be able to rent space within the boathouse for workshops, meetings, and events; use observation decks for data gathering, birdwatching and exploration; and utilize publicly accessible docks for launch of kayaks, canoes and other human powered watercraft.

What are the public benefits of this community boathouse project?

This project increases access to the Raritan River for the general public by providing facilities for the secure storage of human powered watercraft to facility and enjoyment of our waterways.

This project strengthens partnerships of human powered watercraft users to work together to provide opportunities for public outdoor recreation on the Raritan River by creating a center for community.

How does this project fit into the County’s strategic plans?

The Community Boathouse Project fits within many planning documents, priorities, and goals that the County has developed through due diligence processes. These include Destination2040 Plan development, County Open Space planning, Middlesex County Parks & Recreation programming, and other County-led initiatives.

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