Watershed Health in 2020

 

The 2020 Grade for Overall Watershed Health is a C-

Based on combined grades for macroinvertebrates, habitat, and chemical parameters collected at our stream monitoring sites in June 2020, our watershed received a C-. Is our water clean and safe? Yes and no – The overall water quality grade of C- means there is much room for improvement. Because we are the headwaters of the Raritan River and the source of drinking water to 1.8 million people in New Jersey, our goal is to strive for an A or B in all areas. RHA’s data indicate that temperature, oxygen, and pH in most streams are receiving an A+. But stream habitat, nutrients and other pollutants are receiving an F. The organisms in the streams, which are indicators of stream health, are being negatively impacted. This report card tells us that we need to focus on protecting forests and riparian buffers, controlling stormwater by limiting impervious cover and installing green infrastructure, applying best management practices on farms, and increasing the resilience of our communities to climate change.

What caused this rating?

Poorly-planned development and unwise policy decisions at the local and state level continue to threaten the region’s waterways along with the cumulative impacts of pollution coming from irresponsible management of hazardous materials, fertilizers, pesticides, failing septic systems and other common sources. In the context of increased precipitation and extreme weather events due to climate change, there is a heightened sense of urgency to protect our streams. Most of our stream impairments are due to non-point source pollution, meaning pollution that comes from all of us, and can be effectively managed by local community leaders and municipalities. Also, every member of the community has a part to play in protecting the watershed by what they do in their homes, their backyards, and their businesses.