The Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership is happy to host this repository of reports and resources specific to the Lower Raritan Watershed. These documents were developed by ourselves, our project partners, our LRWP volunteers, students and interns, our Rutgers University research collaborators, and environmental consultants. The materials include land inventories, GIS analyses, water quality reports, video presentations and much much more. All rights are held by the authors.
The LRWP Board is very proud to share our 2020 ANNUAL REPORT. We believe it illustrates the depth and breadth of our connections, demonstrating our collective strength and commitment to environmental stewardship despite the challenges of last year.
January 2021 – Climate Change Challenges to Forests and Watersheds
Rutgers University student Julia Brennan developed this presentation on the challenges that climate change poses to forests and watersheds and how to face those challenges as part of her coursework for Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s fall 2020 course “Tracing the Raritan”. Julia discusses how watershed management involves multiple goals which can include better water quality for drinking or for aquatic habitat, flood mitigation, visual aspects, recreation, and more and identifies various mechanisms that can be used for watershed management which rely on a system that monitors changes and adjusts methods to meet goals.
January 2021 – Agricultural Impacts on the Raritan River Basin
Rutgers University student Erin Miners developed this presentation on agriculture within the headwaters region of the Raritan River basin and its disproportionate impact on lower income, people of color communities within the Lower Raritan for Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s fall 2020 course “Tracing the Raritan”. Erin discusses how the vast majority of denitrification occurs within headwaters, so that the majority of nitrogen and phosphorus, though originating in headwaters, ends up in the lower Raritan where nitrogen especially cannot be converted to the biologically inert form. High nutrient fluxes have an adverse effect, leading to eutrophication and health impacts felt more by those closer to the river.
January 2021 – Phragmites Australis in the Raritan Basin
Rutgers University student Joey Shrager developed this presentation on the management of Phragmites Australis in the Raritan Basin as part of her coursework for Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s Fall 2020 course “Tracing the Raritan”. The invasive Phragmites Australis was brought over from Europe in the late 18th or early 19th centuries, most likely from seeds becoming attached to a ship’s bulkhead. In those 200 years, the Phragmites quickly spread across the continent and are currently found in 48 states. They are extremely common on the East Coast and in the Raritan Basin.
January 2021 – The Importance of Riparian Buffers
Rutgers University sophomore Sohan Saha developed this presentation on riparian buffers and their significance to the Raritan watershed as part of his coursework for Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s Fall 2020 course “Tracing the Raritan”. Riparian buffers refer to the vegetated strip next to a stream or river, providing numerous benefits to water quality and local wildlife. The buffers themselves are made up of a healthy mix of trees, shrubs, and grasses.
January 2021 — Problems Caused by the Spotted Lanterfly
Rutgers University student Zoë Gold developed this video on the Spotted Lanternfly as part of her coursework for Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s Fall 2020 course “Tracing the Raritan”. In this video Zoë discusses problems caused by the Spotted Lanternfly, which is an invasive species that is currently spreading through New Jersey and the surrounding areas.
Rutgers University sophomore Paula Agustin developed this video on “The Adverse Reciprocal Health Effects of Watershed Pollution on Animals and Humans” as part of her coursework for Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s Fall 2020 course “Tracing the Raritan”. “Adverse Reciprocal Health Effects” refers specifically to how the pollution that humans put into the river affect the health of the aquatic animal species and how the pollution that animals put into the river affect the public health of human beings.
In Spring 2020 the Rutgers Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy Environmental Planning Studio partnered with the LRWP, South River Green Team, and the Middlesex County Office of Planning to create detailed documentation of demographics, health, housing security, and water infrastructure in South River in preparation for a NJDEP Resilience Grant. Special attention was paid to South River’s Census Tract 69, where life expectancy is the lowest in Middlesex County. Research was designed to support South River’s participation in the NJDEP grant, future resilience in the face of extreme weather events, and future grant seeking. More information can be found here.
January 2020 – Wetlands of the Raritan Basin
Rutgers Undergraduate Jeremy Lewan developed this video as part of their coursework for Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s Fall 2019 course “Tracing the Raritan.” In this presentation Jeremy provides an overview of types of wetlands of the Raritan Basin, and considers the past, present and future of the Raritan Basin’s wetlands ecosystems.
January 2020 – Superfund Sites in the Lower Raritan Watershed
Rutgers Undergraduate Kassia Antin developed this video as part of their coursework for Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s Fall 2019 course “Tracing the Raritan.” In this presentation Kassia looks at some of the Superfund sites in the Lower Raritan Watershed.
January 2020 – Dams!
Rutgers undergraduate Chris Malcolm Lynsung developed this video as part of their coursework for Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s Fall 2019 course “Tracing the Raritan.” In this presentation Chris looks at the impacts of dams and dam removal on our rivers, focusing on dam removals in the Raritan Water Basin.
Rutgers Undergraduate Charlie Anderson developed this video as part of their coursework for Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s Fall 2019 course “Tracing the Raritan.” In this presentation Charlie looks at stormwater management and its relationship to flooding in the Lower Raritan Watershed, and identifies best practices for stormwater management.
January 2020 – Railways and the Raritan Watershed Landscape
Rutgers Undergraduate Arianna Horgan developed this video as part of their coursework for Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s Fall 2019 course “Tracing the Raritan.” In this presentation Arianna looks at the relationship between the railway network and the landscape in the Raritan Basin.
January 2020 – Art in Relation to the Raritan River
Rutgers undergraduate Ro Perez developed this video as part of their coursework for Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s Fall 2019 course “Tracing the Raritan.” In this presentation Ro looks at the role of art in relation to the Raritan River, examining the history of the Raritan Basin through the lens of art.
June 2019 — Raritan Region Timeline
During Spring Semester, 2019, Jenny Schneider, a candidate for the Rutgers Public History Program Certificate (School of Arts and Sciences, Department of History), developed a dynamic historic timeline of major events and happenings around the Raritan region.
June 2018 – Raritan River Sediment Report
Rutgers Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences – Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute (MERI) developed this Raritan River Sediment report with support from the Mushett Foundation. It presents a spatial and temporal distribution of priority pollutants and contaminants in the Lower Raritan River to complement historical baselines of sediment contamination and provide information from areas with no official records of sediment samples.
Thanks to LRW-resident and GIS expert Daryl Krasnuk for developing this “GIS Suitability Analysis for Identifying Open Space Areas for Stream Restoration in the Lower Raritan Watershed.” See also this video that explains the methodology and approach. Daryl started working on this proposal as a Rutgers grad student and has been refining it ever since.
February 2018 – The Raritan River and the Revolutionary War
Rutgers Undergraduate James Spinelli developed this video as part of his coursework for Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s Fall 2016 course “Tracing the Raritan”. In this presentation, James looks at the Raritan River as a key factor in many of the events that occurred during the Revolutionary War. The presentation identifies four sites of fighting within the Raritan Basin, and considers how the environment of the River and River basin influenced the battles and benefited the Continental Army.
February 2018 – Issues Overview: Phragmites Australis in the Lower Raritan
Rutgers Undergraduate Adam Rusak developed this video as part of his coursework for Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s Fall 2016 course “Tracing the Raritan”. In this presentation, Adam looks at the invasive European species of Phragmites Australis that dominates the tidal wetlands of the Lower Raritan Watershed. Adam provides an overview of various impacts of Phragmites Australis on the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem, including fire danger, decreasing evaporation, influences on the nitrogen cycle, an increase of monoculture, and other impacts on viewshed and waterfowl.
February 2018 – The Impact of Dams on Shad in the Raritan River
Rutgers Undergraduate Hailey Conrad developed this video as part of her coursework for Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s Fall 2016 course “Tracing the Raritan”. In this presentation, Hailey presents a delightful cultural history of the importance of shad in the Lower Raritan Watershed. She looks at the impact of dam removal on shad survival, provides solid arguments for dam removal and on-going protection of shad for cultural, ecological and economic reasons.
February 2018 – Deer Overpopulation in the Lower Raritan Watershed
Rutgers Undergraduate Tyler Gardner developed this video as part of his coursework for Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s Fall Fall 2017 course “Tracing the Raritan”. In this presentation, Tyler presents an examination of deer overpopulation in the Lower Raritan Watershed, identifies how human interventions have exacerbated the issue, and considers measures to control deer population.
December 2017 – Pollutants and Birds of the Raritan
Rutgers Undergraduate Connor Anderson developed this video as part of his coursework for Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s Fall 2017 course “Tracing the Raritan.” In this presentation Connor presents an overview of historic pollutants and problematic sites in the Lower Raritan Watershed. He conducts a review of the literature that suggests evidence of accumulated toxins in shorebirds (terns, herring gulls and cormorants) and discusses the impact of accumulated toxins on immune response of these colonial species.
December 2017 – Superstorm Sandy Impacts in the Lower Raritan Watershed
Rutgers Undergraduate Zackary Mages developed this video as part of his coursework for Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s Fall 2017 course “Tracing the Raritan.” In this presentation Zackary provides an explanation of storm surge and storm tide, and then looks specifically at the impact of flooding on salinity and metal concentrations in the Lower Raritan River following Superstorm Sandy in 2013. Zackary highlights findings of three studies that looked at the storm’s impacts on presence of organic compounds following the storm.
November 2017 – Rutgers2030_PublicAccessStudio-Report
The Rutgers University 2030 Master Plan is looking for ways to
re-establish the Rutgers-New Brunswick connection between the city and its river. This return to the Raritan is not without obstacles, as there are various regulatory, funding, and stakeholder concerns to consider. This report, produced by a team of graduate students at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, is an examination of two elements in the Rutgers University 2030 Master Plan: a multi-modal bridge spanning the Raritan River and a boardwalk along the river’s edge. Each element presents its own set of challenges and opportunities, which are outlined in the report from three perspectives: 1) access 2) environment and 3) health and safety.
May 2017 – Baykeeper Pathogens Report Public Release (Perth Amboy / South Amboy)
Throughout the course of June 13, 2016 – October 3, 2016, the LRWP, Baykeeper, citizen scientists and other project partners conducted weekly monitoring events at nine locations along the NJ portion of the Raritan Bayshore (Monmouth/Middlesex Counties) – including two sites in Perth Amboy and one site in South Amboy. This project engaged over 25 volunteers, who participated in all aspects of monitoring-GPS and YSI operations, data collection, water sample collection, and laboratory testing. At each site measurements were taken (i.e., temperature, salinity, oxygen, pH) along with observations regarding weather patterns, potential pollution inputs (point and non-point sources), and recreational use (e.g., fishing, boating, swimming). Additionally, water samples were collected, and analyzed at the IEC laboratory, to determine the levels of Enterococcus bacteria (an indicator of pathogen contamination). Data were analyzed to determine the highest areas of Enterococcus, especially immediately following precipitation events. This report presents findings from the Summer 2016 pathogens study.
May 2017 – Prioritizing Basin Retrofits in the LRW
“Choosing Locations for Green Infrastructure in the Lower Raritan Watershed” was developed by Rutgers University graduate student Kate Douthat as part of coursework in Professor JeanMarie Hartman’s Spring 2017 “Watershed Management”. This study first reviews general frameworks for environmental decision making, and presents an approach to understanding stormwater detention basin candidates for retrofits in the Lower Raritan Watershed. The report then makes specific recommendations for retrofits in Franklin Township. Also see a summary pdf here: Douthat_stormwater_basin_presentation_overview
May 2017 – Tices Lane Park_Inventory_Analysis and Tices Lane Park_General Management Plan (East Brunswick)
To fulfill requirements of a Rutgers Parks Management course, Rutgers graduate student Daryl Krasnuk conducted a study of East Brunswick’s Tices Lane Park and developed two guiding documents for restoration activities of this Pinelands outlier. The first is a Tices Park Inventory and Analysis, and the second a General Management Plan. Daryl’s management plan proposal includes integrating the curriculum of two local schools with the natural resources at the park and using the stream degradation of the Sawmill Brook from up-slope development as an example of the problems faced in the Lower Raritan Watershed.
May 2017 – Designing a Healthier Somerset
Under the guidance of Professor David Tulloch, the Rutgers GeoDesign class took a semester long look at the health of Somerset County, NJ, and identified a number of design interventions that could improve the well-being of the county’s residents. Not surprisingly, so many of their design suggestions would positively impact watershed health.
In 2016 the LRWP commissioned Brian Kempf to develop a white paper to examine the feasibility and opportunities of implementing stormwater utilities at a regional scale. Our evaluation focused on implementation at the County scale.
February 2017 – Bridges of the Lower Raritan Watershed
Working with Professor JeanMarie Hartman, Rutgers Undergraduate Ethan Benderly-Kremen developed this inventory of iconic bridges in the Lower Raritan Watershed. The inventory includes information on bridge construction, age and purpose. Ethan writes: “the bridges of the Lower Raritan are a misunderstood feature, used by almost all but noticed by almost none. By showing how the bridges are different from an ordinary road, and how each bridge is different from another, I hope to demonstrate to the reader that by crossing a bridge, they are directly interacting with a major river, a feature unique to this area, hopefully spurring them to continue learning and interacting with the Raritan.”
January 2017 – Cornell Dubilier superfund site 5 year report (South Plainfield)
The Cornell-Dubilier Electronics, Inc. (CDE) Superfund site located in South Plainfield, New Jersey. The former CDE facility, encompassing 26 acres in size, was previously used by a variety of commercial and industrial tenants. CDE operated at the facility from 1936 to 1962, manufacturing electronic components, including capacitors containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and chlorinated organic solvents. The company disposed of PCB-contaminated materials and other hazardous substances directly on the property soils. CDE’s activities led to widespread contamination of soil, sediment and groundwater with PCBs, metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The site’s long-term cleanup, overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency, is ongoing. This document is the second five year review report for clean-up activities.
January 2017 – Raritan River Robert Street Dam Removal
John Jengo is a Hydrogeologist & Dam Removal Project Manager for many of the dam removals on New Jersey’s Raritan River. He developed this paper summarizing the successful removal of The Robert Street Dam to restore migratory (anadromous) fish passage. To remove the dam, numerous technical and permitting challenges had to be resolved, including inadequate bridge load capacity that precluded heavy equipment access to the site. Technical obstacles that were overcome during the dam removal included managing the work around frequent upriver reservoir releases, the laborious extraction of over 300 individual sheet piles using two different hydraulic vibratory driver/extractors, and conveyance of over 700 tons of concrete and 70 tons of steel offsite over the five-week removal period.
November 2016 – Historical sources of polychlorinated biphenyls to the sediment of the New York/New Jersey Harbor (journal article)
Rutgers University Department of Environmental Science Professor Lisa Rodenburg and colleagues analyzed dated sediment cores to investigate the pollutant polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congener concentrations in the New York/New Jersey Harbor and Lower Hudson River.
August 2016 – Influence of wastewater treatment plant discharges on microplastic concentrations in surface water (journal article)
Rutgers Civil and Environmental Engineering Professors Shirin Estahbanati and Nicole Fahrenfeld studied the abundance of microplastic particles in the freshwater environment of the Raritan River, focusing on samples captured near wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) discharges. To investigate concentration of microplastic in fresh water and the impact of WWTP effluent, samples were collected upstream and downstream of four major municipal WWTPs on the Raritan River, NJ. Microplastics were categorized into three quantitative categories (500-2000 μm, 250-500 μm, 125-250 μm), and one semi-quantitative category (63-125 μm). Then, microplastics were classified as primary (manufactured in small size) or secondary (derived from larger plastics) based on morphology. The concentration of microplastics in the 125-250 and 250-500 μm size categories significantly increased downstream of WWTP. The smaller size classes, often not quantified in microplastic studies, were in high relative abundance across sampling sites. While primary microplastics significantly increased downstream of WWTP, secondary microplastic was the dominant type in the quantitative size categories (66-88%). A moderate correlation between microplastic and distance downstream was observed. These results have implications for understanding the fate and transport of microplastics in the freshwater environment.
May 2016 – Concentrations of heavy metals in fish species targeted by anglers in central New Jersey: A pilot study (journal article)
Rutgers graduate student John Cambridge and co-authors investigated the concentrations of toxic metals in the edible portion of fish tissue obtained from the Raritan River in New Brunswick, New Jersey (NJ) between April and May of 2014. Species collected for this study included commonly caught fish such as bluegill, small and large mouth bass, brown and rainbow trout, bullhead catfish, and white perch. Samples were filleted and the muscle tissue subsequently dehydrated and then chemically digested. Samples were analyzed using Gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC–MS). Levels of 28 different metals were quantified for each specimen. In general, metal contamination in fish tissues was below the recommended limits. However, lead was found in one sample at a tissue concentration of 88 µg per 225 g fillet, which is above the recommended daily consumption limit as set by the Food and Safety Authority of Ireland. The maximum level found for arsenic was 23 µg per 225 g fillet. The fish samples taken from the Raritan River in New Brunswick, NJ for this study did not contain dangerous levels of most of the metals tested.
May 2016 – Lower Raritan Watershed Tidal Waters Maps
With thanks to Middlesex County Office of Planning, water bodies in the Lower Raritan Watershed (including streams, rivers, ponds and lakes) were mapped based upon their location relative to coastal wetlands and head of tide data.
October 2015 – Places of the Lower Raritan Watershed
In Spring 2015, Rutgers Professor David Tulloch’s students conducted a survey of the “places” of the Lower Raritan Watershed. These are the storyboards they developed of the places of interest to them.
June 2015 – Sustainable Cities Design Academy (SCDA 14) Final Report – New Brunswick “Rail Arts River”
December 2014 – The Future of the Lower Raritan Watershed
In Fall 2014 the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership worked with the Rutgers Landscape Architecture Graduate GeoDesign Studio to study current conditions in the Lower Raritan Watershed and evaluate different alternative futures and associated strategies. The Rutgers GeoDesign Studio began the semester with a challenge: how to understand and describe the Lower Raritan Watershed in content, space and time. Building on a mid-term charrette in which students presented a comprehensive inventory and analysis of the study area, work then expanded towards a larger, more traditional GIS-based regional mapping project to challenge the region’s stakeholders in their thinking about the future of the river and the watershed. Rutgers LA Geodesign Studio Final Report.