Tag: Raritan River

Mower May I

Article and photos by Joe Mish

A children’s game, now fading from collective memory, where an authority figure stood facing away from the players who would ask permission to take steps forward. The question included the refrain, “Mother, may I”. The reply might be, ‘take one giant step forward’ or ‘take two baby steps back’. This game is said to be inspiration for Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon, when he said, ‘One small step for man. One giant step for mankind’.  

The months of May and June are the time turtle step forward, one small step for that turtle and a giant step for preserving that species genetic future as they seek a location to lay eggs.  

Turtle species have relied on thousands of years of evolution to reach a relatively stable set of behaviors that has seen them through a millennium of environmental change before the appearance of humans.  

If change occurs faster than a species can adapt, it ceases to exist. The changes turtles face today were never included in the genetic mapping that made them so successful for thousands of years.  Roads and highways, farming and land development have thrown a curve ball to confound the turtles’ evolutionary success via gradual change. Mower blades spinning at 3,500 revolutions per minute sound a death knell to the species in general and elimination of threatened and endangered reptiles from an already shrinking home range. 

The presence of a turtle, no matter the species, is a miracle to behold when you consider it is a time traveler, unchanged in appearance from prehistoric times, who stepped through a wormhole in space into the 21st century. 

The most common species found crossing roads, as evidenced by unsuccessful attempts, is the ubiquitous snapping turtle. An aquatic species whose genetic GPS directs it to favorable high ground away from the vagaries of floods and droughts to lay its eggs. Perhaps it is the distance traveled to lay eggs that has made the snapper so successful and vulnerable to predators, among them autos.  

Another turtle commonly found crossing roads is the eastern box turtle. Box turtles are often concentrated in upland areas. A terrestrial species, it follows the rule of not laying eggs in the area it normally lives. I speculate that predators know where to find their prey and the prey know that the best chance for eggs to reach term would be somewhere away from the general population.  So it is that each spring, female turtles will leave home grounds for a suitable nursery in which to incubate their eggs. Eastern box turtles are assigned a ‘concerned’ classification, given a shrinking environment and loss of genetic variation due to populations isolated on islands of habitat. Continuity of habitat is a critical concern and a prime reason to establish and preserve greenways along rivers and streams.

The wood turtle is classified as endangered by state and ‘under review” by federal US Fish and Wildlife Service and is found locally. Aquatic and terrestrial, it spends time in meadows and uplands near rivers and streams making it more vulnerable to mowing not only during spring egg laying but throughout the season from April to October. Wood turtles are long lived and do not reach reproductive age for several years. This makes wood turtle populations very sensitive to loss of any mature adults. Research finds the loss of one or two adults may mark the end of that population over time. From the Wisconsin DNR website  “Wood turtle populations are particularly sensitive to removal of reproducing adults, and Compton (1999) determined that removal of only two adults annually from a group of 100 individuals would result in extinction of that population in 76 years, and removal of three adult individuals annually would lead to extinction in 50 years.” 

The meadows and uplands along our rivers are prime wood turtle habitat and any mowing must be evaluated for benefit vs harm. Walking trails trod by hikers is preferable to mowing. A mature wood turtle was killed on open space land when a path was mowed for the convenience of some local walkers. This act may have signed a death warrant for the wood turtle population in the area. In this game of survival, the wood turtle may ask ‘Mower, may I ?” when traversing our meadows during egg laying and feeding. 

Check these websites, one from Wisconsin and one from New Jersey for more information about Wood Turtles,

and most interesting, the electronic tracking of a female wood turtle at the Great Swamp National Refuge by the US Fish and Wildlife Service!. 

Click to access ER0684.pdf

Click to access woodtrtl.pdf

https://www.fws.gov/media/wood-turtle-transmitter-colin-osbornusfwsjpg

This wood turtle on her way to lay eggs was killed May 16, 2014, by a mower. Considering she was at least 10 years old, the situation is even more tragic. Wood turtles are a natural treasure hidden in plain view and tall grass, who deserves far more than just our consideration. 
Another wood turtle barely escaped being run over by a white van in the same area along the South Branch. The location of both turtles was reported to the state, which tracks wood turtle populations. This turtle is missing a left front foot, though well healed over.

Author Joe Mish has been running wild in New Jersey since childhood when he found ways to escape his mother’s watchful eyes. He continues to trek the swamps, rivers and thickets seeking to share, with the residents and visitors, all of the state’s natural beauty hidden within full view. To read more of his writing and view more of his gorgeous photographs visit Winter Bear Rising, his wordpress blog. Joe’s series “Nature on the Raritan, Hidden in Plain View” runs monthly as part of the LRWP “Voices of the Watershed” series. Writing and photos used with permission from the author. Contact jjmish57@msn.com.

Where the Raritan Flows No One Knows

The rebirth of the Raritan River is symbolized by a waxing moon hovering above a Bald Eagle, perched along the river, teeming with ancient fisheries, whose recovery is a result of recent dam removals. A birthstone to define the Raritan River as an entity removes its status as a documented enigma and affords it the respect and honor it deserves.

The Raritan River is the longest river that flows within NJ, its rich, pre and post-colonial history well documented in archives and books. Surprisingly, its location has confused state and federal authorities who have mislabeled the North and South Branch of the Raritan River as the Raritan River. Signs on interstate 78 in Clinton identify the South Branch as the Raritan River. Further east on I-78 the North Branch is designated at the Raritan River. State road 202 at the border of Branchburg and Bridgewater claim the North Branch of the Raritan River as the Raritan River.

Last of the cast irons signs which correctly identify the North Branch of the Raritan River. I know of only two other cast irons signs, long gone, which marked the course of the South Branch and Raritan River proper.

To further muddy the waters of the Raritan, an online search of the River’s length will show anywhere from 69.60 to 115 miles. Imagine, a defined measurement of a major river’s length cannot be established! For the record, based on my two canoe trips down the entire Raritan River, I estimate its length at 33 miles. Given the margin of error, 33 miles referenced against the lowest published estimate of 69.60 miles, creates more of an enigma than a reality.

To bring the Raritan River in focus from an enigma, and accord the respect it deserves, it must be properly defined and labeled. Once the river’s identity is established, a gravitational pull of curiosity arises and compels a quest for more information. A better understanding of the river’s role in its watershed and the community it supports can provide critical perspective needed to make sound land and water management decisions.

The first step in establishing respect, whether a person or a river, is to know their name. It is innate in our nature to respond kindlier when a name is offered upon introduction. Consider a hiker walking across a field, free of obstruction, the path will be a straight line. Point out a single species of grass, and the hiker will alter their path to avoid stepping on the now identifiable plant.

Toward that end, an effort is underway to define the beginning of the Raritan River with a boulder placed at the confluence of its north and south branches. A bronze plaque will be attached and petroglyphs carved into the boulder to memorialize native animals and first people.

This indelible marker will, in a way, serve as a birth certificate in the form of a ‘birthstone’ to legitimize the Raritan River proper.

“Raritan River Birthstone” (DRAFT for plaque) “This stone marks the beginning of the

Raritan River and defines this natural treasure as an entity. The Raritan River’s legacy of beauty, inspiration and use, has nurtured all life since its post glacial formation. Arising from the confluence of its north and south branches, the Raritan River begins its thirty-three mile journey to the sea. The petroglyphs carved into this stone represent wildlife and symbols of the Unami, a branch of the Lenape tribe, which would have been seen in glyphs carved by the earliest people”. “Dedicated by the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership 2023.”

Placement of the ‘birthstone’ and the location of the Headgate dam at the very top center of the image. Image taken on flight compliment of LightHawk and No Water No Life.

In 2023’s Raritan River, dolphins and seals ply the waters up to New Brunswick, while young Hudson Bay striped bass and alewives make their way up river to Bound Brook. As dams are removed and historic fisheries revitalized, the Raritan River is in a way reborn and deserving of a ‘birthstone’ to finally mark it place of birth.

The Burnt Mills dam on the Laminton River which flows into the North Branch and eventually into the Raritan river was removed in 2020.
The Headgate dam on the Raritan River, built in 1842, is scheduled for removal. This dam is located a few hundred yards below the beginning of the Raritan River at the confluence of the North and South Branch. The hydraulic created by the dam has caused several deaths over the years.

Author Joe Mish has been running wild in New Jersey since childhood when he found ways to escape his mother’s watchful eyes. He continues to trek the swamps, rivers and thickets seeking to share, with the residents and visitors, all of the state’s natural beauty hidden within full view. To read more of his writing and view more of his gorgeous photographs visit Winter Bear Rising, his wordpress blog. Joe’s series “Nature on the Raritan, Hidden in Plain View” runs monthly as part of the LRWP “Voices of the Watershed” series. Writing and photos used with permission from the author. Contact jjmish57@msn.com.

The Eagle Has Landed

Article and photos by Joe Mish

When the Eagle Lunar Lander set down on the moon in 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong spoke these immortal words, ‘the eagle has landed’.

Those simple words announced to the world that the man in the moon finally had company. The proximity of the moon to the earth made it a central part of myth and legend and directed human behavior as if it were a nurturing celestial caretaker. That humanity now stood on the moon was unbelievable, the impossible had now been achieved!

That headline, ‘the eagle has landed’, perfectly described my emotion when I scanned the latest NJ eagle report and saw an image of an eagle nest and the word, ‘Keasbey’, as its location. I was stunned as a range of emotions swept over me. Keasbey? Eagles? Eagles associated with Keasbey? The same Keasbey I intimately knew from my youthful wandering among the swamps, streams, and tidal creeks in the 1960s and 70s?

Previously, the only reference to eagles in Keasbey were the Keasbey Eagles, a weight lifting club on the Keasbey Heights overlooking Raritan Bay.  Another reference was Eagleswood, a utopian society situated along the shore of Raritan Bay, which ended at what is now the Keasbey border. Visiting naturalist, Henry David Thoreau, linked Eagleswood to Keasbey when he described in his journal on November 2, 1856, a walk two miles upriver from Eagleswood in Perth Amboy to what is now the Keasbey shoreline. 

A wooly mammoth might sooner be unearthed in a Keasbey clay bank than the shadow of a bald eagle pass over the land. Eagles existed only in far-away pristine wilderness destinations.

For that matter Canada geese were unknown to the area, mallards were found only in parks and on occasion a deer track might be seen and be a cause of conservation.

Crows Mill Creek, whose source was a clear spring, now tinted acid yellow, after passing through HR Grace property, flowed over the sandy bottom to the tidal creek at Jennings boat yard. HR Grace, Hayden Chemical Company and Hatco dominated the spring fed area. Some nights, downwind of the factories, the wind might burn your eyes, and in the morning, white flakes would cover your car.

The mouth of Red Root Creek which flowed through the arsenal past the restricted areas where phosgene was buried.

During the summer when mosquitoes were nigh, an olive drab military vehicle would ride up and down the streets spraying thick clouds of DDT, through which all the kids rode their bicycles. Keasbey itself had rerouted Crows Mill Road around a large abandoned clay pit and used it to dump garbage. Upstream of Keasbey, in Edison, the Raritan Arsenal buried weapons and explosives in the wetlands along the river. Within the Arsenal property, Phosgene was buried in small isolated fenced in areas.  National Lead was situated across the river, lead slag was used to support the shoreline in many locations along the Bay. Lead, among other chemicals, entered the food chain to accumulate in top feeders.

The clay banks and local brick factory produced hollow tile and bricks. The tiles were packed in local sea grass sea grass for shipment all over the country.
Signs along the perimeter fence of the Raritan Arsenal

The lower Raritan and Keasbey were in no way suitable eagle habitat, even though the Raritan is a major migratory extension of the Atlantic flyway. The lower Raritan region is one of, if not, the most naturally diverse regions in the state, it is where the soils of south Jersey meet the soils of the north.  From the soil springs a diversity of plants and a cascade of wildlife to make this region a veritable United Nations where all members are represented in one location. This cannot be emphasized enough, the potential for diversity is critical to build upon the success of the eagles. In fact, it is stunted, to look at a single species and not the community in which it exists.

While remediation of the chemical factories is underway and DDT use curtailed, we are still plagued with legacy pollution and a spectrum of novel emerging pollutants. Microplastics combine with pharmaceuticals and other chemicals to attack the immune system of humans and other top food chain feeders such as eagles. Blood samples taken from eagles remain in frozen storage for lack of funding. Even if processed, there is no plan to look at the impact of specific pollutants on the immune system. The preoccupation with lead poisoning diverts attention from the impact other pollutants have on the immune system. We hope the exploding eagle population is not a flash in the pan and only time and further research will tell.

An article from the 1970s revealing a blood sample from an eagle tested for pollutants. We have traded pollutants which still pose a threat as exposure comes from new chemical entities and microplastics. Testing for pollutants which attack the immune system has been a hole in current eagle research at least in NJ.

So, the table had been set for an explosion of natural diversity denied by decades of abuse. When one lives to see the dramatic contrast take place over a lifetime, the impact approaches the status of a miracle. The nesting bald eagle in Keasbey is on the level of man landing on the moon, a cause for celebration in and of itself.

To delve a bit deeper into pollutants, see the NJ fish consumption warnings
https://dep.nj.gov/dsr/fish-advisories-studies/

Author Joe Mish has been running wild in New Jersey since childhood when he found ways to escape his mother’s watchful eyes. He continues to trek the swamps, rivers and thickets seeking to share, with the residents and visitors, all of the state’s natural beauty hidden within full view. To read more of his writing and view more of his gorgeous photographs visit Winter Bear Rising, his wordpress blog. Joe’s series “Nature on the Raritan, Hidden in Plain View” runs monthly as part of the LRWP “Voices of the Watershed” series. Writing and photos used with permission from the author. Contact jjmish57@msn.com.

What’s in Your Water? Lunchtime talk (virtual)

March 3, 2023 @ 12:30 pm 1:30 pm

As we enter our 5th year of pathogens water monitoring on the Lower Raritan River we want to share with the public our results and how you can help! Join the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership and our Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County partners for an online lunchtime information sharing session. Learn about:

-the data we are collecting

-why it matters

-share your ideas for the Raritan River and what activities you would like to be available

-how you can get involved!

Pre-registration required to receive a Webex link for this ONLINE event. We will send log-in information the week before the event.

The Embers Burst Into Flames

Article and photos by Joe Mish

Blaze orange leaves adorn this local black oak. Nature’s seasonal clock has struck 10, autumn has arrived as October takes out a full page ad to showcase its array of brilliant color.

The hot breath of August turns September mornings into a smoldering mist as embers of summer’s end burst into an explosion of October color.  

The early morning autumn mists, so prominent along the rivers and brooks that flow gently across the landscape, stir the imagination to reach back in time to a place where magic was the accepted answer to the wonders of nature. 

Dark green leaves turning to fluorescent orange is the stuff of wonderment. The purpose of which is to generate thought and build creative answers to perplexing questions. It is as if nature is guiding human evolution to higher intelligence by flashing colorful prompts to articulate a creative response. Creativity is the foundation of knowledge and its application. A warm up exercise for the immersion into disciplined technology, ruled by logic and reason. 

The heavy white mist, rising from the river, overflows the pastures, providing a blank slate, into which the light of dawn infuses clouds of ever-changing color. A band of intense pastels emerge from the night and rest upon the horizon to await the sun’s arrival. The first color to appear is a layer of fireball red which cools to an orange glaze, so intense, it appears the world is on fire. Purple streaks fading to rose, pink and salmon support layers of golden yellow, chartreuse and sulfur. This celestial palette, stirred by the rushing wind, spurred on by the sun’s heat clashing with the night’s cool air, disperses the colors to tint the rising river mist.

The predawn light begins to color the rising mist along the South Branch

The early morning light show vanishes into thin air as the sun rises to its zenith above earth. Brilliant blue sky, unmarked by clouds, stand in contrast to the colorful October foliage. Late afternoon herds of fluffy white clouds appear animated as their structures are constantly reshaped by the whim of the wind.  Each bold cloud, composed of delineated puffs of white, bordered by shades of gray, compel interpretation as they resemble earthbound faces, animals and objects. Again, a playground for the imagination to run wild, compliment of autumn weather. It is easy to understand how humans used the sky to interpret messages from the beyond, as true in paleolithic times as it is today. Playing with clouds is to share the exact same emotion and interpretive conclusions as long-gone ancestors. The clouds become a portal in that way, piercing the impenetrable wall of time to prompt creative interpretation, likely more aligned than different.

Fluffy white clouds invite the viewer to ride the sea of imagination.

It is the colorful autumn foliage which garnishes the late day clouds and dramatic morning river mists of October. At a distance, woodlands appear as a single undulating blanket, woven with colorful threads, showing irregular swatches of yellow, green and scarlet. Viewed as a time lapse, the colors expand southward, while the northern edge reverts to earth tones of grayish brown as if consumed while on the run, from the hungry wolves of winter. 

Brilliant, blaze orange oak leaves defy imagination in their intensity, and stand in bold contrast to the conservative green, brown and gray tones that dominate the landscape. Like a flash of fire, its sight demands our absolute attention as sure as the flash of a lightning bolt. In that long moment of awe, imagination, held in abeyance by reality, rushes in to disrupt the continuity of time.  

October is totally dedicated to autumn and all its glorious color, a time when golden mists and billowy white clouds mark the transition between summer and winter; a perfect agreement between two polar opposites.  

The trail of Octobers past, is a familiar well-worn path through time, lit with the brilliance of golden leaves, beckoning the traveler deeper into a world of timeless beauty.

The trail of Octobers past, is a familiar well worn path through time, lit with the brilliance of golden leaves, beckoning the traveler deeper into a world of timeless beauty.

Author Joe Mish has been running wild in New Jersey since childhood when he found ways to escape his mother’s watchful eyes. He continues to trek the swamps, rivers and thickets seeking to share, with the residents and visitors, all of the state’s natural beauty hidden within full view. To read more of his writing and view more of his gorgeous photographs visit Winter Bear Rising, his wordpress blog. Joe’s series “Nature on the Raritan, Hidden in Plain View” runs monthly as part of the LRWP “Voices of the Watershed” series. Writing and photos used with permission from the author. Contact jjmish57@msn.com.

Raritan Pathogens Results for 9.15.2022

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. On Thursdays we collect water quality samples at 6 non-bathing public access beach sites along the Raritan River, provide our samples to the Interstate Environmental Commission for analysis in their laboratory, and report the results to the public on Friday afternoons. 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.

Lab results for water quality samples taken on September 15, 2022 show Enterococcus bacteria levels that exceed the EPA federal water quality standard of 104 cfu/100mL at a majority of our monitoring sites. Problem sites are indicated by red frowns on the map and chart and include Riverside Park (Piscataway), the Edison Boat Ramp (Edison), Ken Buchanan Waterfront Park (Sayreville), and 2nd St. Park (Perth Amboy). The green smiles represent sites with Enterococcus bacteria levels below the federal standard for recreation and include Rutgers Boathouse (New Brunswick) and South Amboy Waterfront Park (South Amboy).

Pathogens/Enterococci levels are used as indicators of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria in recreational waters. 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. Such pathogens may pose health risks to people fishing and swimming in a water body. If you choose to recreate on the Raritan, please do so safely and be sure to wash thoroughly after all activities!

Many thanks to the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and Interstate Environmental Commission for their partnership, and to our team of volunteers who came out this week! See here for more information on our pathogens monitoring program.

Welcome to the LRWP’s new Raritan Scholar intern Jonathan Kim! Volunteer Frank Dahl showed Jonathan how to fill out the data forms. Photo Credit: Andrew Gehman

Andrew Gehman multi-tasked while in the water collecting samples – YSI in one hand, camera in the other taking photos of our beach-based monitoring team! Photo Credits: Andrew Gehman

Frank returned the favor and captured Andrew in action while he held the YSI in place so we could document real-time data of the water , Photo Credits: Frank Dahl

August 18, 2022 Raritan Pathogen Results

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. On Thursdays we collect water quality samples at 6 non-bathing public access beach sites along the Raritan River, provide our samples to the Interstate Environmental Commission lab for analysis, and report the results for the public on Friday afternoons.

Our pathogen results for August 18, 2022 suggests two of our upstream sites exceed federal water quality standard for recreation, represented by the red frowns on the map and chart: Riverside Park (Piscataway) and Rutgers Boathouse (New Brunswick). The “green smileys” for all other the sites mean Enterococcus bacteria levels are below the EPA federal standard for recreation at these locations: Edison Boathouse, Ken Buchanan Waterfront Park (Edison), South Amboy Waterfront Park (South Amboy), and 2nd Street Park (Perth Amboy).

Suitable levels for primary contact should not exceed 104 cfu/100mL. Per the EPA’s federal water quality standard for CFU primary contact, Pathogens/Enterococci levels are used as indicators of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria in recreational waters. 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. Such pathogens may pose health risks to people fishing and swimming in a water body.

Big thanks to the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and the Interstate Environmental Commission for their partnership, and to our monitoring volunteers that came out this week! See here for more information on our pathogens monitoring program.

The low tide at Rutgers Boathouse allowed us to observe a small herd of deer wandering along the river bank, Photo Credits: Genevieve Ehasz
This week’s monitoring crew working together at the Edison Boat Launch, Photo Credits: Andrew Gehman
The team gathered data while on a messy dock at our Ken Buchanan Site, Photo Credits: Andrew Gehman

Captured one of our amazing volunteers Andrew Gehman wading into our monitoring site in Perth Amboy (2nd St. Park), Photo Credits: Genevieve Ehasz

August 04, 2022 Raritan Pathogen Results

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. On Thursdays we collect water quality samples at 6 non-bathing public access beaches along the Raritan River, provide our samples to the Interstate Environmental Commission lab for analysis, and report the results for the public on Friday afternoons. Our water quality results for this Thursday August 4, 2022 indicate relatively clean levels of water at most of our sites. However, our most upstream site (Riverside Park, Piscataway) suggests the levels of Enterococcus exceed the federal standard for primary contact, indicated by the red frowns on the map and chart. The “green smileys” represent pathogen levels below the EPA’s federal quality standard for recreation.

Suitable levels for primary contact should not exceed 104 cfu/100mL. Per the EPA, Pathogens/Enterococci levels are used as indicators of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria in recreational waters. Possible sources of bacteria include Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), improperly functioning wastewater treatment ps, stormwater runoff, leaking septic systems, animal carcasses, and runoff from manure storage areas. Such pathogens may pose health risks to people fishing and swimming in a water body. If you choose to recreate on the Raritan this weekend, stay safe and please be sure to wash your hands!

Big thanks to our partners, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and Interstate Environmental Commission, and to our amazing volunteers who came out this week! See here for more information on our pathogens monitoring program.

As we arrived at our monitoring site at Rutgers, we couldn’t help but notice how low the water was despite the flood tide, Photo Credit: Andrew Gehman

Our hardworking monitoring team caught in action at the Edison Boat Launch, Photo Credits: Jocelyn Palomino

Arrived at the Ken Buchanan Waterfront Park just in time to catch a local resident using the Raritan for a solo boating trip, Photo Credits: Andrew Gehman

The new and improved mural at 2nd St. Park Waterfront thanks to Perth Amboy’s own students and Joel Rosa, Photo Credit: Frank Dahl

July 28, 2022 Raritan Pathogen Results

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. On Thursdays we collect water quality samples at 6 non-bathing public access beaches along the Raritan River, provide our samples to the Interstate Environmental Commission lab for analysis, and report the results on Friday afternoons. Our water quality results for July 28, 2022 indicate high levels of Enterococcus at both our most upstream site at Riverside Park in Piscataway, and at our most downstream site at Perth Amboy 2nd Street Park. These are indicated by red frowns on the map and chart.

The “green smileys” on the map and chart for all other sites mean pathogen levels were below the federal quality standard for recreation at these locations. Suitable levels for primary contact should not exceed 104 cfu/100mL. Per the EPA, Pathogens/Enterococci levels are used as indicators of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria in recreational waters. 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. Such pathogens may pose health risks to people fishing and swimming in a water body. If you choose to recreate on the Raritan this weekend, stay safe and be sure to wash your hands!

As always, many thanks to the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and Interstate Environmental Commission for their partnership, and to our great group of volunteers this week! See here for more information on our pathogens monitoring program.

Our volunteers Frank and Julisa helping Jocelyn document observations at our Piscataway monitoring site, Photo Credit: Andrew Gehman

At our Piscataway and Rutgers locations, we noticed algal blooms, a sign of warmer summer temperatures, Photo Credits: Andrew Gehman

It appears that some younger residents were out enjoying the South Amboy Waterfront over the week, leaving a small sandcastle along the path to our monitoring location, Photo Credits: Andrew Gehman

Our volunteer Andrew was able to capture this photo of our monitoring crew near the Perth Amboy CSO, while he was out in the water catching samples, Photo Credit: Andrew Gehman

August 13 – South River Guided Paddle!

August 13, 2022 @ 8:30 am 12:00 pm

Please join the LRWP and paddle guides Anton Getz and Gregg Bucino for a guided paddle of the South River! Paddlers will travel from Varga Park/Pacers Field in South River to the main stem of the Raritan River and back.  Total trip distance is 4-5 miles round trip.

WHEN: Saturday, August 13, 2022, 8:30 am-noon. High tide is approximately 9:50am.

WHERE: Meet at Varga Park/Pacers Field, 125 William Street, South River, NJ 08882

REQUIREMENTS:

·        Bring your own kayak or canoe.** 

·        Personal Floatation Devices (life vests) must be worn.

·        Prior paddling experience encouraged.

·        Registration required.  Maximum of 15 participants.

·        Event is FREE, but registration is required.

(**If you do not have a kayak or canoe and would still like to attend, please register and then email the group lead: anton.getz@gmail.com.)

125 William Street
South River, New Jersey 08882 United States
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