Residents of 15 towns in Somerset, Hunterdon and Morris counties will have a convenient way to test their well water this spring through a program offered by watershed watchdog Raritan Headwaters in partnership with municipalities.
RHA’s Community Well Testing program allows residents of partner towns to buy test kits and drop off water samples within their towns. Water samples will be sent to a state-certified private laboratory for testing; confidential results will come back about two weeks later.
“It’s convenient, it’s affordable and it’s private,” said Mara Tippett, well test manager for Raritan Headwaters.
“Everyone whose drinking water comes from a well should have it tested once a year, and the Community Well Testing program makes it easy,” she added. “There are health risks from drinking contaminated well water, and the only way to know for sure if your well water is clean is if you have it tested.”
Elections have consequences, and one major consequence of the 2016 election is sweeping changes to federal environmental and climate policy.
These changes make New Jersey’s 2017 elections all the more critical, according to Bill Kibler, policy director at watershed watchdog Raritan Headwaters.
New Jersey voters will elect a new governor and fill all seats in the state Assembly and Senate on Nov. 7. The election, Kibler said, gives voters an historic opportunity to stand up for the environment and public health by choosing candidates who place a high priority on protecting clean water and air.
“This is an opportunity for a rebirth of the environmental movement, especially the grassroots environmental movement of which watershed associations are a cornerstone,” he said. “The positive message is that 2017 can be the year that New Jersey reclaims its role as a national leader of the environmental movement.”
Hundreds of small rivers, streams, creeks and brooks meander through Hunterdon, Somerset and Morris counties’ mostly-rural landscapes, eventually joining to form the North and South Branches of the Raritan River.
How clean are the waters of these streams? Can you safely wade, swim, fish and paddle in them?
These are questions that Raritan Headwaters, the region’s watershed watchdog, has been investigating and reporting to the public for almost 60 years through its annual stream monitoring program.
In 2016, Raritan Headwaters sampled water at 61 stream sites throughout its 470-square-mile watershed, which is the area that drains into the North Branch and South Branch Raritan River. It found that 10 percent had excellent water quality, 48 percent had good quality, 39 percent had fair quality and 2 percent had poor quality.
One widespread culprit impairing streams in New Jersey is bacteria, according to Angela Gorczyca, water quality manager for RHA.
Looking for a way to help the environment and beautify your community? Raritan Headwaters, the region’s nonprofit watershed watchdog, needs your help this Earth Day, Saturday, April 22!
Bedminster-based Raritan Headwaters is looking for volunteers of all ages for its annual Stream Cleanup, a large-scale effort which last year drew over 1,350 volunteers to dozens of river and stream sites in Hunterdon, Somerset and Morris counties. Together, the volunteers – including families, scout troops, businesses, civic groups and schools – picked up nearly 14 tons of trash.
Angela Gorczyca, water quality manager for Raritan Headwaters and coordinator of the Stream Cleanup event, is hoping for another strong volunteer turnout this year.
“I think people are hungry for opportunities to make a difference in their local community,” she said. “The act of picking up trash empowers volunteers, who instantly see a positive change in their neighborhood.”
Two Raritan Headwaters staff members, Director of Education Lauren Theis and Director of Science Dr. Kristi MacDonald, will lead educational workshops on March 17 at the 21st annual New Jersey Land Conservation Rally in New Brunswick.
Theis will be co-presenter of “Land Stewardship through the River-Friendly Programs,” with Heather Desko of the New Jersey Water Supply Authority and Brittany Musolino of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association. In this workshop, attendees will learn about the River-Friendly certification programs coordinated by the three partner groups, and how other organizations can join in this growing effort to engage New Jersey residents, schools, businesses and golf courses in taking positive actions to protect water quality in local rivers.
Raritan Headwaters’ interactive stream monitoring map is updated on our website! You can enter your address into the tool bar at the top of the map to find the nearest stream monitoring site in relation to where you live. The map features all 62 of our stream monitoring sites. The stream monitoring sites are represented by circles and are color coded by their water quality ratings in 2016. Excellent sites are red, green sites are good, fair sites are orange, and red sites are poor. If you click on a circle, you can find out some basic details about each site and can click on the more information link to visit a site’s official stream monitoring page. Each stream monitoring site page includes a site description, photo, raw data and its trend line graph. Learn more about our stream monitoring program.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, more young people will get a chance to learn about the water in their rivers and streams, and how to tell if it’s clean.
J&J recently awarded Raritan Headwaters a $20,000 grant to extend the scope of our WaterWays and RiverFest environmental education programs, which are available to schools within the watershed’s region in Hunterdon, Somerset and Morris counties.
Led by trained educators, our flagship WaterWays program has been teaching students about river ecology for more than 20 years through a combination of classroom and field experiences. The program fosters students’ appreciation for the natural world, creates a greater sense of stewardship for the environment and increases their understanding of how human behavior can impact natural systems.
To magnify the impact of these environmental education efforts, last year we launched RiverFest, a “festival in a box” that can be delivered to local schools. In a time of tight school budgets, not every district can send students on a field trip to learn ecological sciences. RiverFest is an affordable alternative to school districts and can be held indoors or outdoors, any time of year.
Waterways and RiverFest will also provide professional development for educators, building their knowledge and enhancing their teaching practice around environmental education. This coming year we will connect with more than 120 educators, offering knowledge they will transmit to thousands of students.
“We’re so grateful to Johnson & Johnson for providing this grant,” said Cindy Ehrenclou, executive director. “Environmental education is at the core of our mission as a water protection group, and we want to reach as many of the 90,000 school-age children in our region as possible to create the environmental stewards of the future.”
Rain gardens are landscaping multi-taskers: They stop water runoff, keep pollution out of rivers and streams, add beauty to yards, and attract birds, bees and butterflies.
Learn how to create a rain garden on your property on Wednesday, Jan. 18, at a workshop sponsored by Raritan Headwaters, the region’s nonprofit watershed watchdog. The program will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Fairview Farm wildlife preserve at 2121 Larger Cross Road, Bedminster.
Lauren Theis, education director for Raritan Headwaters, will lead the “Design Your Own Rain Garden” workshop. She will cover all the basics, from planning and design to installation and maintenance. “Attendees will learn how to read topographic maps of their property, select the perfect location and design their very own garden,” she said.
With Donald Trump about to be inaugurated President and Governor Christie now in his lame duck year, how will political changes impact New Jersey’s environment?
Bill Kibler, Raritan Headwaters’ policy director, doesn’t have a crystal ball. But he’ll have opinions and the latest information to share with the public at the next “Morning Call” gathering on Thursday, Jan. 19. Area residents are invited to join Kibler for coffee, a light breakfast and a timely discussion.
Kibler’s talk, “Elections Have Consequences: Environmental Priorities for New Jersey in 2017,” will be held from 8 to 9:30 a.m. in the Brick Cottage at the Fairview Farm wildlife preserve, 2121 Larger Cross Road, Bedminster.
Raritan Headwaters, the region’s watershed watchdog, was honored as a “River Hero” by the national group American Rivers for its annual cleanup of the upper Raritan River and its tributaries.
Raritan Headwaters mobilized 1,347 volunteers this past April for a cleanup of the North and South Branches of the Raritan River and their tributary streams. Working at 52 sites in 31 municipalities within the 470-square-mile watershed region, the volunteers removed more than 12 tons of trash.
For its efforts, Raritan Headwaters was given an honorable mention in the “Most Volunteers Mobilized” category of the 25th annual National River Cleanup recognition program. RHA was the only all-New Jersey organization to be honored.
“We’re thrilled to be recognized as a River Hero by American Rivers,” said Angela Gorczyca, water quality manager for Raritan Headwaters and organizer of RHA’s stream cleanup. “Raritan Headwaters’ mission is to protect clean water in our watershed, and we’re very grateful to the dedicated volunteers who help us carry out this mission.”