The Working Group on Improvements to Water Quality, Stormwater, and Infrastructure along the Raritan River identified priorities that closely match the goals outlined in the 2002 Raritan Basin Watershed Plan that was developed by the Raritan River Watershed Alliance and the New Jersey Water Supply Authority. As a result, the purpose of the Working Group’s report is to advance key initiatives identified in the 2002 Watershed Management Plan and build on existing programs.
Poor water quality inevitably contributes to poor human and ecosystem health. Pathogens, heavy metals, nutrients, and other contaminants threaten those who utilize the polluted water resources for drinking water and recreational activities. Because over one million people live within the Raritan River Basin, demands on the water resources are also a concern. It is vital to monitor, evaluate and improve the current water quality and water quantity status so as to protect human well-being and ecosystem health. Three key priorities have been identified as measures necessary for the improvement of water quality and quantity management within the Raritan Basin. They include:
- Stormwater utility programs
- The development of small-scale watershed restoration plans
- Educational and outreach programs
The first objective for improving water quality in the Raritan River is to educate local, county, and State stakeholders on the need for stormwater utilities, and ultimately create a pilot program for the implementation of stormwater utilities. This large-scale effort requires educational outreach, engaging stakeholders, and developing a comprehensive stormwater utilities plan and public awareness and acceptance plan.
The second step of the Working Group’s water quality report requires promoting the development of watershed restoration and protection plans at the sub-watershed level and implementing these plans. Using the Raritan Basin Plan, a broad scope study, the watershed can be better characterized. Developing comprehensive water quality plans first requires compiling a list of completed and on-going restoration plans and implementation projects within the Raritan River Basin, and assembling a list of other identified watershed areas in need of a restoration or protection plan. Plans for sub-watersheds within the Raritan Basin that were identified in the White Paper include the Mulhockaway Creek Stormwater Management and Water Restoration Plan, Delaware and Raritan Canal Tributary Assessment and Nonpoint Source Management Project Watershed Restoration and Protection Plan, and the Sourland Mountains Watershed Protection Plan. The Working Group then proposes hosting technical workshops on the development of watershed restoration plans, identifying priority implementation projects from all plans that can be implemented by stakeholder groups, and finally, organizing groups of community volunteers and stakeholders to complete the developed plans.
Reports and Links
- White Paper: Improvements to Water Quality, Stormwater, and Infrastructure. 2009. Sustainable Raritan River Initiative, Rutgers University
- Raritan Basin Watershed Plan. 2002. New Jersey Water Supply Authority