Raritan Pathogens Results 8.24.2023

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 24, 2023 show Enterococcus bacteria levels exceed the EPA federal water quality standard at only one of our sites this week. Problem sites are indicated by red frowns on the map and chart which includes: Riverside Park (Piscataway). Green smiles on the chart and map indicate sites with bacteria levels safe for recreation and include: Rutgers Boathouse (New Brunswick), Edison Boat Basin (Edison), Ken Buchanan Waterfront Park (Sayreville), 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!

Low tide and overcast skies during our Thursday morning of monitoring, Photo Credit: Rose Lawless

The outfall at the Rutgers Boathouse in New Brunswick was exposed at the time we collected our sample due to the low tide, Photo Credit: Rose Lawless

Our amazing team of volunteers (including Rose behind the camera) on the docks at the Edison Boat Basin, Photo Credit: Rose Lawless

Frank Dahl is always ready to spot all types of wildlife with his binoculars, Photo Credit: Rose Lawless

Another great week of water quality monitoring thanks to our volunteers: Piash Ahamed, Genevieve Ehasz, Irene Riegner, Colleen Georges, Frank Dahl, and Sheyla Casco! Photo Credit: Rose Lawless