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 21, 2023 show Enterococcus bacteria levels exceed the EPA federal water quality standard at our three most upstream sites this week. Problem sites are indicated by red frowns on the map and chart which includes: Riverside Park (Piscataway), Rutgers Boathouse (New Brunswick), and Edison Boat Basin (Edison). Green smiles on the chart and map indicate sites with bacteria levels safe for recreation and include: 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 remember to wash thoroughly after enjoying your weekend activities on the Raritan!
Our team of volunteers at Riverside Park early on Thursday morning, Photo Credit: Heather Fenyk
Broken Ganesh sculptures in the shallow waters at Riverside, Photo Credit: Heather Fenyk
A great day for fishing on the Raritan, volunteers shared the dock with some folks at the Edison Boat Basin, Photo Credit: Heather Fenyk