Monitors Learn About Health Of South Branch
On Saturday, January 15, 2005, South Branch Watershed Association (SBWA) presented the results of the 2004 river monitoring season.
presentation about ‘Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Efforts in New
Jersey’ was the highlight of the event, presented by Danielle
Water Quality Monitoring Coordinator for the NJ Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP). The
message was motivational and to the point.
Data collected by volunteer monitors in New Jersey is important
and will be used by various organizations and agencies for everything
from education, to stewardship, to regulation.
The amount of sites monitored and the frequency at which
they’re monitored could not be achieved without the efforts of
volunteer monitors. There is just not enough paid staff in the state to
accomplish what the volunteers are doing.
is the eleventh year of collecting data at 17 sites along the South
Branch Raritan River and its tributaries for SBWA’s volunteer
biological monitoring program. Every
June, trained volunteer “water stewards” collect a “bug” sample
at an assigned site within the South Branch Raritan River watershed.
Volunteers follow an EPA approved protocol to ensure accuracy and
precision in collection of data. The
sample is then sent to a certified lab for complete analysis.
Different species of juvenile “bugs” that live on the bottom
of river can tell us much about the quality of the water. Through the analysis of these “bugs,” each site is
assigned a New Jersey Impairment Score of non-impaired, moderately
impaired, or severely impaired. Of
the 17 sites monitored this year, 14 were non-impaired, 3 were
moderately impaired, and none were severely impaired.
This is an improvement from the 8 moderately impaired sites last
year. "It is
encouraging to see an improvement over the prior year's results,"
said Nicole Rahman, the Director of SBWA's monitoring program.
According to Ms. Rahman, "wide fluctuations in precipitation
levels over the past several years have potentially impacted
results." Ms. Rahman
indicated that this past year's monitoring was done under more normal
that SBWA has 11 years of data, it’s time to analyze it further and
document any trends that are revealed in a comprehensive report.
They are currently in the process of figuring out who might
complete the analysis and write the report, as well as what funding
sources are available for this type of project.
Then the data can be used to help improve and protect the water
quality within the watershed. Don
Einhorn, Executive Director of SBWA, said, "this data is extremely
useful in gauging the health of the watershed."
"A comprehensive analysis will tell us what streams may be
showing signs of stress. It's
not unlike having your pulse and blood pressure checked during an annual
physical. If one is off it
usually means something is going on.
These bugs are the pulse of the watershed system, they tell us if
we need to look further to determine what is causing problems."
According to Einhorn, this information can then be used to
properly plan for how development is accommodated or curtailed and where
restoration efforts need to be focused.
For more information about SBWA, or becoming a volunteer monitor, please contact Nicole Rahman, Program Director, at 908-782-0422, or visit SBWA’s website at www.sbwa.org.