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 September 7, 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 our most upstream site: 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. 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 be sure to wash thoroughly after any recreational activities and have a safe weekend on the Raritan!
Low tide at our first site in Piscataway as Genevieve retrieves our samples for the week, Photo Credit: Heather Fenyk
Keep an eye out for our stickers posted at all our monitoring locations with a QR code leading directly to our weekly results, Photo Credit: Heather Fenyk
Special thanks to Genevieve Ehasz and Heather Fenyk for taking care of our sampling this week! Photo Credit: Heather Fenyk