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 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 lab results for water quality samples taken on June 22, 2023 show Enterococcus bacteria levels that exceed the EPA federal water quality standard of 104 cfu/100mL at one of our monitoring sites. Problem sites are indicated by red frowns on the map and chart and includes Edison Boat Basin (Edison) this week. Green smiles on the chart and map indicate sites with bacteria levels safe for recreation and includes: Riverside Park (Piscataway), Rutgers Boathouse (New Brunswick), Ken Buchanan Waterfront Park (Sayreville), South Amboy Waterfront Park (South Amboy), and 2nd Street Park (Perth Amboy).
Pathogens/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. 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.
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. Even though our results show water quality levels are safe for recreation this week, please wash thoroughly after all activities if you choose to recreate on the Raritan!
Our team of volunteers were ready to collect this week’s samples despite a very cloudy Thursday morning, Photo Credit: Monica Orso
At each of our sites, one volunteer uses the YSI and fluorometer (being held in the picture) that reads specific parameters like pH or salinity, while other volunteers collect the water samples and record data on field observations, Photo Credit: Jocelyn Palomino
A mallard drake and one of his young ones needed our help getting untangled from a fishing line at the Ken Buchanan Waterfront Park, we always enjoy encountering all sorts of animals while we’re monitoring, Photo Credit: Monica Orso
Quite a few folks out on the South Amboy Waterfront this Thursday despite the light rain, Photo Credit: Monica Orso
Special thanks to our amazing team of volunteers who came out this week: Monica Orso, Colleen Georges, Sheyla Casco, and Genevieve Ehasz! Photo Credit: Jocelyn Palomino