Tag: civic science

#FRAMES sculpture build in Boyd Park

#lookfortheriver: FRAMES sculpture installation

On Saturday November 7 join the LRWP and sculpture artist Tobiah Horton (Rubble R & D) during a “work day” as Toby installs a new sculpture #lookfortheriver: FRAME in New Brunswick’s Boyd Park Raritan River riverfront.

New Brunswick’s Boyd Park floodplain suffers repeat flood inundation, and serves as a protective “sponge” for other parts of New Brunswick. The #lookfortheriver: FRAME sculpture tells the story of infrastructure that is at-risk of flood inundation due to climate change and sea level rise. The sculpture is a living symbol of how removal of structures (in this case a house) from our floodplains allows for ecological restoration and regeneration, and fosters resilience.

Toby and the LRWP will explain how our FRAMES sculpture will function as a data gathering tool! Through repeat digital photography uploaded to social media, passersby participate in civic science data collection about sea level rise, land use change, and resilience. Data gathered will allow for prioritization of resilience and restoration planning.

With thanks to many wonderful partners and funders for their support on this project.

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

Program funded by Middlesex County,
a partner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

And with special thanks to the New Jersey Council for the Humanities

 

That’s a wrap for 2020! Pathogens monitoring results for November 5

Yesterday was the last day of pathogens monitoring for 2020. Despite COVID-related challenges and the general difficulties of juggling an all volunteer program, we met EPA requirements for quality data and built a great data set. HUGE THANKS to our partners: Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and the Interstate Environmental Commission. And much gratitude to all our wonderful volunteer monitors! We couldn’t do it without you!

Below are our pathogens results for 11.5.2020, followed by field notes for the day.

The LRWP and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County monitor for Fecal Coliform and Enterococcus at six non-swimming public beach access sites along the Lower Raritan during the warmer summer months. Fecal Coliform and Enterococcus are indicators of disease-causing bacteria in our waterways.

The EPA recommends that a single Enterococcus sample be less than 110 Colony Forming Units (CFU)/100mL for primary contact. Enterococci levels are used as indicators of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria in recreational waters. Such pathogens may pose health risks to people fishing and swimming in a water body. 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. Enterococci levels are often high after heavy or consistent rainfall.

Field notes for November 5, 2020

Another foggy start to the morning. Both our Riverside Park (Piscataway) and New Brunswick Boat House sites were gorgeous under a shroud of mist.

Looking toward Albany Street Bridge from the Rutgers Class of 1914 Boathouse

The views from our monitoring site in Perth Amboy are dramatic. To the left you look out to Raritan Bay and sailboats and huge ships heading into New York Harbor. To the right you look upstream, at the mouth of the Raritan, where the new “River Draw” train bridge is under construction.

Looking toward construction of the new train bridge from under the old “River Draw”

So long, see you next year!

While it is sad to end the sampling season, we will be happy to empty our trunk of monitoring supplies

Raritan River Pathogens Results for 10.1.2020

Photos and article by LRWP Board President Heather Fenyk

The LRWP and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County monitor for Fecal Coliform and Enterococcus at six non-swimming public beach access sites along the Lower Raritan during the warmer summer months. Fecal Coliform and Enterococcus are indicators of disease-causing bacteria in our waterways.

The EPA recommends that a single Enterococcus sample be less than 110 Colony Forming Units (CFU)/100mL for primary contact. Enterococci levels are used as indicators of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria in recreational waters. Such pathogens may pose health risks to people fishing and swimming in a water body. 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. Enterococci levels are often high after heavy or consistent rainfall.

Below are our pathogens results for October 1, 2020. These are about the worst results of the season so far. Two of our sites had colony forming units (cfus) that were TNTC or “too numerous to count”.

Please note: results are preliminary and pending quality control.

Field Notes for 10.1.2020

Our sites may be “dirty” but they are also beautiful, and places where many go for fishing, recreation, and to learn more about the natural and constructed world.

Gorgeous views at our Riverside Park (Piscataway) site belie what are typically our worst pathogens counts for all monitored sites
Our friends at the Edison Boat launch site told us the water was too dirty to catch anything but eels. LOTS of trash floating in the water at this site this week.
This is the fifth week of red tide conditions at our monitoring site in South Amboy
Check out the video we capture of a simultaneous train crossing of the picturesque Raritan River “River Draw” in Perth Amboy!

See our blog post for more information on the River Draw Bridge, and the Raritan River Bridge replacement project.

April 20 Bacteria Monitoring Workshop – Virtual Training

NEEDED!! Volunteer Water Quality Monitors to assist with bacteria monitoring during Summer 2020

WHAT: Virtual Training Workshop for Water Quality Sampling and Bacteria Monitoring

WHEN: Monday April 20, 4:30-6:30 PM

WHERE: Online! (…the comfort of your own home)

WHY: Every Thursday from mid-May through the end of September the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County will be in the field taking water samples from five public access (non-bathing, fishing, and recreational) sites along our Raritan River. We need volunteers to help us with this important work!

Volunteers will help project coordinators with sample collection, sample preparation and delivery, and analysis. See here for more info on our monitoring program.

June 1 – Visual Habitat Assessment with Jon Dugan!

Calling all Streamkeepers and Citizen Scientists!

Please join us for our June 1 visual habitat assessment training with the LRWP’s Volunteer Monitoring Manager Jon Dugan! (Here’s more on the LRWP’s water quality monitoring programs).

This FREE training on Saturday June 1 will run from 9 AM – 1 PM at the Middlesex High School, located at 300 John F Kennedy Dr, Middlesex, NJ 08846

We will start the morning with a lecture indoors, and then get out in the field to test our knowledge of streams and stream habitat.

Please wear clothing and footwear that you don’t mind getting wet and dirty.

Registration required.

May 21 – Visual Habitat Assessment Training in North Brunswick

Please join us for our May visual habitat assessment training with the LRWP and WMA9 Americorps Watershed Ambassador Katee Meckler! (Here’s more on the LRWP’s water quality monitoring programs).

This FREE training will run from 9 AM – 1 PM at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension EARTH Center at Davidson’s Mill Pond, located at 42 Riva Avenue in North Brunswick.

We will start the morning with a lecture indoors, and then get out in the field to test our knowledge of streams and stream habitat.

Please wear clothing and footwear that you don’t mind getting wet and dirty.

RSVP required, E-mail Heather: hfenyk AT lowerraritanwatershed DOT org

Civic Science comes to PBS

Article by LRWP Board President Heather Fenyk

Wikipedia tells us that civic science or citizen science (CS; also known as crowd science, crowd-sourced science, volunteer monitoring or networked science) is “scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur (or nonprofessional) scientists. Citizen science is sometimes described as public participation in scientific research, participatory monitoring and participatory action research.”

The LRWP employs civic science to better understand the health of our watershed. Our volunteers engage in activities like water quality monitoring, soil sampling, pollinator counts and mapping of invasive and threatened/endangered species. The data our volunteers generate is a key input to our analyses and restoration prioritization.

While the LRWP’s mission centers on protecting, preserving and restoring habitat and biodiversity within our Lower Raritan Watershed, our civic science approach to data gathering speaks to another core purpose: by training community volunteers to monitor and report on the health of the environment we work to ensure that science, community engagement and environmental stewardship become a permanent part of the culture and identity of the Lower Raritan Watershed.

Want to learn more about citizen/civic science? Not only how it is used to characterize the health of our watersheds, track climate change and map oil spills, but also how it can improve emergency responses, help us understand how diseases spread, and keep our drinking water clean? Check out the new PBS mini-series sponsored by The Crowd and The Cloud. For a month of Thursdays this April, PBS will host a 4-part television series exploring citizen science, crowdsourcing, and mobile technology. Below we summarize the episodes in the series:


Even Big Data Starts Small

The crowd, using mobile tech, and the cloud contribute to science that saves lives. In this episode, you’ll hear stories of everyday people contributing data used for emergency management, researching Alzheimers, mapping oils spills, and more.

World Broadcast: April 6th at 9pm EST
(replayed at 9pm PST)

Citizens + Scientists

Citizen scientists track air pollution in Wyoming, test for lead in Philadelphia’s drinking water, fish for data in coldwater trout streams and report environmental crimes in China, using the “Black & Smelly Rivers” app. Hear all these stories and more in Episode 2.

World Broadcast: April 13th at 9pm EST
(replayed at 9pm PST)

Viral vs Virus

Real-time data helps track environmental triggers for asthma sufferers and citizens confront air pollution and rising asthma rates by collecting real time data. In this episode, explore how maps and apps can combat globalized disease from asthma to Zika.

World Broadcast: April 20th at 9pm EST
(replayed at 9pm PST)

Citizens4Earth

This episode explores a Year in the Life of Citizen Science. Counting birds with an app, surfers collecting ocean data while they ride the waves, volunteers surveying horseshoe crabs on the Delaware Bay, and butterflies wintering over in California.

World Broadcast: April 27th at 9pm EST
(replayed at 9pm PST)

Developing a Soils Research Plan for the Lower Raritan Watershed

Article by Dorothy Lee, Rutgers University Sophomore and LRWP Summer Soils Intern

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LRWP intern Dorothy Lee, presenting at Rutgers (photo by Heather Fenyk)

This summer I had the opportunity to intern for the LRWP doing soils and civic science research. My job was to conduct initial research into how the LRWP could develop a civic science soil monitoring program to better understand soils functions for an urban watershed level. Urban areas can benefit from soil mapping exercises because urban soils are a concern for food supply, drinking water, stormwater control as well as aesthetics and recreation. Particular issues of urban soils are related to impervious surfaces, erosion, land filling and land leveling, surface removal, contamination, sedimentation and severe compaction. The benefits of working with civic scientists to aid in research means that data can be collected efficiently and in a timely manner while simultaneously connecting the community to their environment.

The LRWP’s specific interests as they relate to soil include soil enrichment for stormwater retention and for bionutrient food availability. After researching these issues, I worked with LRWP President Heather Fenyk and Professor Stephanie Murphy, Director of the Rutgers Soil Testing Lab, to identify ways that the LRWP could begin to engage the Lower Raritan Watershed community in soils research. A few of the actions we thought could orient conversation for future soil-health-oriented civic science studies include: having area civic scientists work to identify “new” bacterial phyla, linking soil health improvement goals to impervious cover remediation actions planned at the municipal level, and evaluating rain gardens as a management strategy to increase soil C, optimize soil N cycling processes, and reduce leaching and gaseous emission losses of nitrogen.

The LRWP is also beginning to develop a plan to communicate the benefits of composting for soil enrichment. This relates directly to my work at Rutgers with a new club, RU Compost. Compost is an efficient way to reduce our food waste, cycle nutrients back into our soils, and create more awareness and education opportunities to the public. At Rutgers our club is working to implement composting in our dining halls and students centers, and we are also working on building a compost demonstration for the Spring semester in the Lower Raritan Watershed. Look for us in the spring!

Seeking Civic Science Water Quality Monitors!

The LRWP is excited to be a part of “Citizen Science Monitoring for Pathogen Indicators in the NY-NJ Harbor” – a grant secured by NY-NJ Baykeeper to monitor local waters for pathogens in Raritan Bay. Funding for training and sample analysis is provided by the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary Program. Volunteers are needed for summer monitoring, with training to start in May.

Volunteer civic scientists from the LRWP and Bayshore Regional Watershed Council will help the NY-NJ Baykeeper collect water samples this summer at sites along the shores of Raritan Bay & Sandy Hook Bay. The LRWP and Raritan Riverkeeper will coordinate sampling at the three sites in Perth Amboy identified in this map. Bayshore Regional will cover the remaining sites. Training will start in May and will involve field, lab and data management procedures. We will follow strict quality assurance and quality control procedures approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Our goals with this project are to generate high quality, credible data on the health of our waterways, suitable for a wide variety of users. This information can help government agencies and the public make decisions about water quality improvements, habitat restoration, and recreational use. Volunteer monitors will gain important science skills and experiences while strengthening their connection with, and care of, local resources.

We need volunteers (YOU!!!) to help. Do you have time this summer to collect water samples so we can learn about our River? Do you want to gain a new perspective on the Raritan and have a lot of fun? Do you want to take your environmental stewardship to a new level?

To volunteer please e-mail Heather hfenyk AT lowerraritanwatershed DOT org

(This opportunity is an especially good resume builder – perfect for college students!)