The Sustainable Raritan River Initiative (SRRI) produced Volume 1 of the State of the Raritan Report in December 2016 to update key indicators of water quality and watershed health for the Raritan River basin (Lathrop et al. 2016). The indicators in Volume 1 were originally assessed in the Raritan Basin: Portrait of a Watershed as developed by the New Jersey Water Supply Authority in 2002 (NJWSA 2002). The objective of both reports was to inform watershed management and water supply protection needs in the Raritan basin.
Volume 2 of the State of the Raritan Report looks at a broader range of metrics for the health and livability of the Raritan River basin (Malone et al. 2018 – pending). Our intent was to capture readily available data; in most instances, the data collected did not have available historic data to identify trends. The majority of data in this document is, therefore, a report of status only but is still valuable to inform future watershed planning efforts.
Eleven key indicators were assessed for Volume 1 including: population; housing units; urban land use; impervious surface cover; forested, coastal and emergent wetlands; upland forest cover; prime agricultural land; groundwater recharge; fish and macroinvertebrate bioassessments; riparian area integrity; and known contaminated sites and groundwater contamination (Table 1). The trends evident between 1986 and 1995 are continuing in the same general direction though the rate of change in trends has varied over the longer time period (Table 1). The trend impacts over the 20 plus years were either trending negative for water quality or could not be determined.
Volume 2 indicators include: canopy cover; known contaminated sites; threatened and endangered species; open space; recreation trails and greenways as well as boat launches; a summary of grey infrastructure including stormwater management basins, culverts, outfalls, bridges and dams; restoration projects; and resilience as measured by FEMA flood insurance payouts for recent historic storms in the basin.
Together, the two volumes will provide critical data to inform planning and decision-making in the basin as well as to identify data gaps and research needs that will set priorities for university-based efforts. Our ultimate goal is to develop a baseline of metrics that can be used in the coming years to identify strengths and weaknesses in efforts to restore and protect Raritan resources and to help inform basin-wide stewardship and regional planning efforts for the Raritan.
A PDF of the State of the Raritan Report, Volume 1 can be accessed here.
A PDF of the State of the Raritan Report, Volume 2 can be accessed here. – coming soon!
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