Tag: pathogens

6.30.2022 Raritan Pathogens Results

By LRWP Water Quality 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. On Thursdays we collect water quality samples at 6 non-bathing public access beaches along the Raritan River, and report the results on Friday afternoons. This week, water quality tests show pathogens levels below EPA federal water quality standards all of our sites! Pathogens/Enterococci “colony forming units” (CFUs) are measured and used as indicators of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria in recreational waters. Suitable levels for primary contact should not exceed 104 cfu/100mL. Although our results show pathogen levels under federal water quality standards for cleaner levels of water, please recreate on the river at your own risk and always be sure to wash your hands. Pathogens may pose health risks to people fishing and swimming in a water body. More information about our pathogens program is on our water quality monitoring webpage.

We’d also like to share a new map we’ve been working on to help improve the understanding of the water flow through the watershed. In the coming weeks, we will be integrating our bacteria findings into our new map. Special thanks to Brenda Allen for developing the map and providing this “sneak preview”.

The sampling crew caught in action at the Edison Boat Basin, Photo Credit: Doreen Camardi.
While at our Perth Amboy site, we came across a horseshoe crab swimming about next to a car tire that was thrown into the water. Photo Credit: Doreen Camardi

Many thanks to the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and Interstate
Environmental Commission for their partnership, and to our monitoring volunteers!

6.9.2022 Raritan River Pathogens Results

With 0.83 inches of rain on Thursday morning June 9, you can probably guess the water quality vibes! High Enterococcus levels at almost all our pathogens monitoring sites this week (read about the exception below) means Raritan River lovers should be wary of engaging in waterfront activities this weekend.

Our Perth Amboy site was especially gross. Water Quality monitoring after heavy rains near combined sewer overflows (CSOs) is never pleasant. Look closely at the waterline in the photo below. What you see is several inches of pulverized toilet paper, disposable wipes, and poo defining the water’s edge at our 2nd Street Park Perth Amboy site. There was active discharge of sanitary sewage from the CSO, the pipe in the middle right of the image. Any guesses as to the dominant odors?

Perth Amboy Waterfront 6.9.2022

Despite the yuck factor, it was a GORGEOUS day to get out for some sampling. Huge thanks to our crackerjack team including the LRWP’s Community Outreach Project Manager Jocelyn Palomino, and our volunteer monitors Andrew and Frank pictured below.

The LRWP’s monitoring team at Piscataway’s Riverside Park

Our South Amboy site was especially beautiful yesterday – the water was CLEAR, reflecting big puffy clouds. Our South Amboy numbers were below the EPA threshold for Enterococcus, with low presence of fecal coliform as well.

South Amboy Waterfront 6.9.2022

Enterococci results are reported in Colony Forming Units or CFUs. Suitable levels for primary contact should not exceed 104 cfu/100mL. 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. 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.

Huge thanks to our partners: Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission.

Pathogens Monitoring Results for 7.15.2021

The Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County run a volunteer pathogens monitoring program from May to September every Summer. On Thursdays we collect water quality samples at 6 non-bathing public access beaches along the Raritan River, and report out the results on Friday afternoons. Our results for 7.15.2021 look pretty good! See here for more information on our pathogens monitoring program.

Happy Weekend!

We had a great team out for pathogens monitoring, and put all hands to work catching samples, documenting habitat, and recording data. THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS!!

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.

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!

Pathogens Monitoring Results 6.3.2021

What a soggy week in the Lower Raritan, with 1.56 inches accumulated in our rain gauge in the 24 hours since our water quality monitoring activities yesterday morning June 3. The USGS flood gage shows discharge significantly above the 24 year median daily statistic.

With such significant precipitation please know that our pathogens sampling numbers for six non-bathing public access beach sites captured during June 3, 2021 monitoring are not reflective of the current situation. (See here for more on our pathogens monitoring program):

Enterococci results are reported in Colony Forming Units or CFUs. Suitable levels for primary contact should not exceed 110 cfu/100mL. 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. 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.

Huge thanks to our partners: Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission.

Field Notes:

Pathogens Monitoring 2021

The Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership, Rutgers Extension / Middlesex County EARTH Center and the Interstate Environmental Commission are pleased to solicit trained volunteers for our 2021 pathogens monitoring season!

May 12 in person training for new volunteers

We will host an in-person training for new volunteers running from 4-6pm on Wednesday May 12 (location TBD – either East Brunswick or Piscataway). Space is limited and registration required. With thanks to The Watershed Institute for grant support to allow for Spanish language translation for this session.

May 19 virtual “refresher” for returning volunteers

For those of you who have joined us in the field in prior years, we will also host a virtual training “refresher” on Wednesday May 19, 5-6:30pm. During this session we will summarize findings from 2020, provide an overview of goals for 2021, walk through sign-ups for the season, and explain a few new processes and procedures for the season.

Can’t wait to start thinking about pathogens monitoring and your role as a volunteer? We invite you to view the Webex recording of our 2020 virtual training. If prompted, please enter password: Pathogens2020

Below are answers to commonly asked questions about responsibilities and time commitment of a volunteer pathogens monitor:

Q: Do I need boots, waders, or other equipment? 

A: Boots, yes. You will also want clothing appropriate for the weather and sun protection. Don’t forget your bug spray and hats! We have several sets of waders of different sizes that we can loan.

Q: What time does the sample collecting begin and end?

A: We typically kick off between 8-8:15 AM. We meet at the Piscataway site, then caravan to the New Brunswick site, where some folks leave their cars. We then carpool to the remaining sites. Going from site to site takes about 4-5 hours depending on traffic. We then travel to the lab or at a drop off site. Depending on interest in the lab, we may stay as long as an hour to orient volunteers to what is going on there.

We generally return to the New Brunswick site by about 3pm.

Q: What about lunch?

A: Sometimes we grab a bite at a local restaurant either on Staten Island or in Perth Amboy. Please be sure to bring plenty of snacks to keep your energy up throughout the day. And don’t forget your water!

Q: Does everyone doing the collecting on a given day go to all the sites?

It is not always the case that all volunteers join us for the whole day. Some people choose just to help out with the sampling, and do not join us for the trip to the lab.

Q: What would I do as a volunteer monitor?

A: You will always have a team leader with the volunteers. The team leader is generally joined by three additional people. That seems about the right number of hands to do the work and help us keep to our schedule. In the field folks are absolutely given tasks! This includes recording site observation data, labeling sample bottles, taking samples (which can involve suiting up in waders), using the probe and documenting that data, keeping everything organized. This is quality controlled work and we do not send out volunteers on their own. The more hands the better and the faster things go. We ask folks to sign up for specific dates, and ask that they commit to going out with us for the full day.

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

Lower Raritan Pathogen Results for 10.15.2020

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 15, 2020.

Field notes for 10.15.2020

What a beautiful day for monitoring! Americorps Watershed Ambassador Caitlin DiCara helped us out with monitoring. We were also joined at our Piscataway and New Brunswick sites by our Windows of Understanding 2021 artist Marcia Shiffman. Marcia’s work for 2021 will focus on communicating the “hidden” social justice issue of inequitable access to nature.

Caitlin DiCara and Marcia Shiffman at our Riverside Park (Piscataway) site

We talked with Marcia and Caitlin about social barriers and physical obstacles to enjoyment of blue or green spaces or parks. In preparation for our listening session on Social Justice and Access to Nature, we identified a number of barriers to accessing nature. All of the below we observe as issues at non-bathing public access beach pathogens monitoring sites. These include:

-Difficulty in accessing green/blue or park space because of landscape design

-Difficulty in accessing green/blue or park space because of cost

-Not feeling welcome in a natural blue/green space or park because of economic status, or ethnic or cultural difference

-Cultural and/or language restriction present other barriers to enjoyment of time in natural spaces

-Bullying behaviors or material obstacles limit enjoyment of time in natural spaces for persons with disabilities

-Fear, anxiety, or feelings of helplessness in the face of crime limits time in natural spaces

What obstacles or barriers have we missed?

Our Thursday “regulars” fishing at the Edison Boat Launch
Not much tugging at these poles, Edison Boat Launch 10.15.2020

Lower Raritan pathogens results for 10.8.2020

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 8, 2020. These are some of the best results of the season so far!

Please note: results are preliminary and pending quality control.

Field notes for 10.8.2020

Every Thursday morning for the past 10 weeks of monitoring we have been greeted by a pair of mute swans at our Piscatway Riverside Park monitoring site. Although Mute Swans are not native to our area, and their aggressive behavior and voracious appetites disturb local ecosystems and displace native species, they are known to mate for life and these two seemed to have a special bond. It was a sad sight to find one of the pair floating along the dock this morning, it’s partner just a few yards away.

Things didn’t get much better, with fish kills at our Edison and Sayreville sites. The gorgeous view off one of the Ken Buchanan docks belied the mess in the water.

One of the docks at the Ken Buchanan Sayreville site.
A few of the dozens, if not hundreds, of dead fish in the Raritan at Sayreville 10.8.2020
1 2