PAULINS KILL WATERSHED, N.J. — The Foodshed Alliance’s Paulins Kill Watershed Community Program is seeking volunteers to join a citizen science program testing water quality in nearby bodies of water. The goal is to learn about and monitor the amount of road salt that is getting into the Paulins Kill River, tributaries, lakes, and ponds. The NJDEP-funded program is managed by the The Watershed Institute which is providing the Foodshed Alliance with this opportunity including materials needed to test water quality for salt levels.
While salt applications in parking lots and on roadways allow for safe travel during the winter months, the salt damages infrastructure, travels into our waterways, and infiltrates soils and wells. Salty runoff has many impacts, including the release of lead from pipes, increased sodium levels in drinking water, corrosion of vehicles, and impaired ecosystems. These impacts only get worse as the salt concentrations increase and the amount of winter salt applied through time in NJ is rising steadily.
“This study is vital for freshwater scientists, municipal officials and others to gain a greater understanding of how to balance public safety with healthy waterways in New Jersey,” said Erin Stretz, Assistant Director of Science & Stewardship at The Watershed Institute. Sharing data with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and The Watershed Institute can lead to improved road salt application methods that can ensure healthy drinking water, protect our infrastructures and sustain our natural resources while also keeping our roads safe.
Interested volunteers are asked to observe the road salt applications near their homes with the selection of safe monitoring sites in mind. Examples of preferred sampling sites are downstream and near a major road/bridge that is regularly salted or a paved surface that downslopes into a body of water. Volunteers will be asked to test their site before and after 4 – 6 snowstorms in 2023. Suggestions for testing locations can be provided.
About the Paulins Kill Watershed Community: The Paulins Kill Watershed Community is an initiative of the Foodshed Alliance, a nonprofit 501(c)3 based in northwestern New Jersey. The Foodshed Alliance focuses on strengthening the food system by connecting food, farms, and the environment to ensure healthy ecosystems and food for all.