Testing keeps tabs on Millstone Township waterway

By Matthew Sockol
Staff Writer

MILLSTONE – Testing has been performed on an important source of water in Millstone Township to help ensure that natural resource remains healthy.

As part of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association’s StreamWatch program, certified volunteers tested the water quality of the Millstone River from July 15-17. The testing was conducted by the watershed association and the Millstone Township Environmental Commission.

The Millstone River is a tributary of the Raritan River and provides water to municipalities in central New Jersey.

There are monitoring sites near Stillhouse Road and near Route 33, according to StreamWatch coordinator Erin Stretz. The environmental commission monitors the Stillhouse Road site.

According to its official website, the StreamWatch data helps the watershed association better assess the impacts of pollution and land use on local streams and determine what actions are necessary to protect and improve water quality. The program has existed since 1992.

“The environmental commission has been monitoring the Millstone River water quality for several years with healthy stream quality results,” Millstone Environmental Commission Vice Chairman Doug Lischick said.

According to Stretz, basic parameters of the water are measured during testing, including temperature, pH (acidity), dissolved oxygen, nitrate-nitrogen, orthophosphate and turbidity. The chemistry of the water is analyzed using test kits.

“The Upper Millstone Watershed, to which we refer the headwaters of the river, is in decent shape,” Stretz said. “Orthophosphate and phosphorus concentrations tend to go above healthy levels, which may be explained by the large swaths of agricultural land in Millstone Township.”

The results of the water sampling are collected and analyzed by the watershed association and reported to municipalities in the watershed and other interested parties, according to Lischick.

“The sampling takes about two hours once a month, as well as one quality assurance/quality control session at the watershed center lab once a year,” he said.

Volunteers who participate in the water testing must participate in a half-day training session and be committed to the program for at least one year. Interested individuals may contact the environmental commission or the watershed association directly to participate or complete the association’s volunteer form at www.thewatershed.org

StreamWatch is one of several measures taken to help preserve the quality of life in Millstone. In April, the community’s 10th annual stream cleanup was held. Volunteers of all ages removed trash and debris from lakes, streams, ponds and other areas.

At a recent meeting of the environmental commission, Lischick noted the success of the annual stream cleanup and suggested that next year, officials designate an area where the township’s youngest residents can get involved with the project that annually removes thousands of pounds of trash and debris from Millstone.