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Ready, Set, Sample! DRBC's Summer Water Quality Monitoring Season Underway

The commission’s water quality monitoring programs are a key part to its overall strategy to manage and maintain the Delaware River Basin’s water resources. These monitoring efforts are important because water resources cannot be properly managed if they are not measured. The commission’s monitoring programs help to protect and restore water quality in the basin by providing a mechanism to evaluate how water quality criteria are being met and allow for data to be assessed.

DRBC staff will be active in the field this summer sampling the Delaware River and various tributaries to support the following commission water quality monitoring programs:

Delaware Estuary Boat Run Water Quality Monitoring Program

  • DRBC collaborating with Delaware's Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) to collect water samples monthly from Delaware Estuary at 22 locations.
  • Standard measurements of physical/chemical water quality parameters will be conducted at each location in addition to sample collection. 
  • Samples will be analyzed for bacteria, heavy metals, nutrients, and algae. 
  • The purpose of the survey is to the assess Estuary Water Quality for metals, bacteria, eutrophication, and conventional parameters. 
  • Bacterial data are posted on the DRBC web site monthly from April to October at http://www.nj.gov/drbc/quality/datum/boat-run.html.
  • DRBC staff developed an interactive application that allows the user to explore water quality data collected from the DRBC Delaware Estuary Boat Run Water Quality Monitoring Program from 1999-2016. Learn more at http://www.nj.gov/drbc/quality/datum/boat-run_explorer-app.html.

Delaware Estuary Tributary Nutrient Monitoring 

  • Nutrient monitoring will be performed to estimate nutrient loads. 
  • 10 different Delaware Estuary tributary sites will be sampled four times throughout the year to assess nutrient loadings.  

Scenic Rivers Monitoring Program 

  • DRBC and National Park Service (NPS) partner in an effort to monitor and manage water quality in the non-tidal Delaware River Watershed as part of the Special Protection Waters program. 
  • DRBC’s Special Protection Waters program is designed to assess and prevent degradation of conditions where existing water quality is better than the established water quality standards. 
  • Sampling will occur from May through September, with a total of 10 samples from 13 sites:
    • Lower Delaware Scenic and Recreational River (LDEL): 6 sampling sites
    • Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River (UPDE) and Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DEWA): 7 sampling sites       

Biomonitoring Program

  • DRBC’s biomonitoring program began in 2001 and assesses ecosystem health by collecting macroinvertebrates and periphyton, as well as documenting habitat characteristics.
  • This program provides an overview of the health and diversity of the aquatic life communities in the non-tidal Delaware River.
  • Samples are collected typically during August and September at 25 riffle habitat sites from Hancock, N.Y. to just above the head of tide at Trenton, N.J.

Nutrient Sampling at Trenton, N.J.

  • Beginning in January 2017, DRBC staff have been collecting water samples twice per month at the Calhoun Street Bridge in Trenton, N.J.
  • These samples are being analyzed for nutrients and results will support the development of the commission’s Eutrophication Model.

Microplastics Sampling

  • DRBC staff will conduct two sampling events in the tidal Delaware River, one in the summer and one in the fall.
  • Water samples will be collected and analyzed for microplastics, microscopic plastic particles found in the water column.