The Nature Conservancy recently asked the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership to identify the top issues facing the communities with which we work. We developed our “Top 10” list, below.
A few caveats to this list. First, the Lower Raritan Watershed is comprised of a diversity of communities facing a varied set of issues. Each community would likely identify a different set of priority issues. Second, the LRWP has not conducted a comprehensive survey of need (although it is something we would like to do). The following issues have been identified during discussions with communities, by daily culling of google for Raritan River and watershed-related news stories, reading minutes from Environmental Commission, and from general observation. Many of these issues are inter-related, but we have culled them out as they often seem to be discussed singly.
We very much welcome stakeholder comments, input and suggestions to the add to our list.
- Substandard quality of area waters due to toxic contamination and contamination due to disease-causing pathogens. This bears not only on fishing, swimming and secondary contact, but also on concerns with drinking water quality.
- Uncertainty regarding the quality of area waters: lack of readily accessible (and easily interpreted) information about water quality.
- Linked to, but distinct from the above: the need for restoration of historic contaminated sites and waterways to protect public health.
- Sea level rise, and assistance with preparedness / resiliency planning.
- Flooding, significant impervious surfaces, and disruption of natural / historic hydrologic flows.
- Stormwater runoff and the need for regional stormwater management, including assistance with meeting MS4 requirements from County/state or other regional entity.
- Fragmentation of habitat, including fragmentation of human scale habitat (e.g. walking and bicycling routes).
- Perceptions of safety around riverfront spaces and streams deters use of these spaces (e.g. significant homeless populations, poor lighting, limited access and/or limited signage).
- Aging rail infrastructure that could lead to devastating spills in our waterways.
- Threat of pipelines or other significant infrastructure that might damage habitat.