By Sandra LaVigne, Director of Water Quality Programs
Beginning in 2017, as part of GSWA’s new expanded mission and role as the Passaic River Waterkeeper, we will begin to monitor sites downstream of Millington Gorge, the traditional end-point for sampling in our watershed. While we will still continue to closely monitor all of the streams within our Great Swamp Watershed (maintaining two monitoring sites on each of our five streams above the gorge as well as our Millington Gorge site), we have selected four additional sites between the gorge and Chatham Borough, to increase our understanding of the water quality in lower Passaic River.
Our new sites have been strategically chosen to monitor the inputs to the river from the surrounding communities. Some of the sites are located near past USGS (United States Geological Survey) or NJDEP (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection) collection sites, allowing us to compare our 2017 results to historic data.
We will monitor for the same baseline parameters (nitrogen, phosphates, pH, total dissolved solids, total suspended solids, sodium, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and chloride) that we have collect in the Great Swamp Watershed, with the addition of arsenic to some sites. Arsenic is a naturally occurring mineral that enters the water from deposits in the earth. It also has industrial and agricultural uses which can be a source of pollution. The current EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) standard for drinking water is 0.010 mg/L or 10 ppb (parts per billion). The most recent NJ DEP 303(d) report (a biennial list of waters that are not meeting surface water quality standards) lists the downstream Passaic River, in our new sampling area, as positive for arsenic. We will sample for baseline arsenic data in this area and compare with the historic data used in the 303(d) report.
Below is a brief description of each of our new sites:
Site 1 – River Road in Millington: This site is located below the gorge and downstream of two unnamed tributaries that flow through Bernards Township. Our data will help to capture the impacts of development in the area.
Site 2 – Riverside Road in Warren: This site is downstream of the Dead River confluence. We have historic data from the Dead River and will collect baseline data to see the impact of this confluence on the Passaic River.
Site 3 – Passaic River Park, Springfield Avenue, Berkley Heights: This site is downstream of the Berkeley Heights sewage treatment plant and the town of Berkley Heights. We have some previous data on this site from our SWaMP (School Water Monitoring on the Passaic) program. The data here will capture the outflow from the sewage plant as well as from an unnamed tributary that flows through an industrial area of the town.
Site 4 – Stanley Park, River Road, Chatham: This site was monitored by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) for chemical parameters as well as current flow data. It will be a valuable site for flow comparisons with the Millington Gorge site where USGS flow data is also available. This is also an active SWaMP site so other baseline data is available.
As always we here at the GSWA depend on our amazing volunteers to help us collect our data throughout the watershed. If you are interested in helping to collect water quality data at any of our locations please contact Sandra LaVigne, Director of Water Quality Programs: firstname.lastname@example.org.