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New Technology Allows Bacteria to be Monitored in Near Real-Time in the Urban Corridor of the Delaware River

For Immediate Release

October 12, 2021

(West Trenton, N.J.) -- The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) has partnered with the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) New Jersey Water Science Center to install an advanced next generation water-quality instrument to monitor bacteria indicators in Camden County’s Pyne Poynt Park, in Camden, N.J.

The Fluidion Alert System instrument advances DRBC, USGS and the Basin community’s knowledge of the changing water quality in the urban Delaware River Estuary by providing near real-time bacterial data. Last year, a similar gauge was installed on the Philadelphia side of the river. The addition of the Camden instrument provides a more comprehensive picture of water quality in the most urbanized section of the 330-mile-long river.

"We cannot improve what we don’t first measure," said DRBC Executive Director Steve Tambini. "The DRBC and Basin community want to continue to improve the water quality in the urban corridor of the Delaware River. We are always seeking better ways to monitor what is in our waters. From there we can continue our collective efforts to apply science, engineering and policy to understand and reduce sources of pollution."

Bacteria levels in the urban corridor of the Delaware River can change rapidly. Under current traditional sampling and monitoring practices for bacteria, sampling is labor intensive and expensive, and there often is a multi-day lag time between sample collection and receipt of results. Daily or hourly fluctuations of bacteria indicator concentrations in the Delaware River are not captured. Urban runoff and combined sewer overflows contribute to higher bacteria concentration following rainfall events. The Fluidion Alert System instrument uses rapid sampling and analysis methods and wireless transmission and is being evaluated to deliver timely and efficient results.

"In this partnership, the USGS will be providing near real-time information on water quality and bacteria levels in a portion of the Delaware River," said USGS Supervisory Hydrologist Anna Boetsma. "These data will inform water resource managers and local officials as they work both to ensure the safety of recreational activities and make decisions focused on reviving the health of the river."

"The quality of the water running through the Delaware River is a matter of the utmost concern for Camden County. The city and county are joined at the hip with the river, which has helped make the area a center for economic commerce since its founding. The installation of a Fluidion gauge in the vicinity of Pyne Poynt Park is an important step in a decades-long effort to improve the quality of the river for our residents," said Camden County Commissioner Jeffrey Nash, who serves as the liaison to the Camden County Parks Department. "We applaud the commitment shown by the Delaware River Basin Commission and the United States Geological Survey -- with support from the William Penn Foundation -- to improve the quality of our waterways."

Funding for the Fluidion instrument came from the U.S. EPA Urban Waters Federal Partnership and from a grant provided by the William Penn Foundation.

The DRBC is a federal/interstate government agency created in 1961 by concurrent compact legislation, marking the first time that the federal government and a group of states joined together as equal partners in a river basin planning, development and regulatory agency. The five Commission members are the governors of the basin states (Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania) and the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ North Atlantic Division, who represents the federal government.

To learn more about the Commission, please visit www.drbc.gov or follow DRBC on Twitter at @DRBC1961.

Editor’s Note: Fluidion is a registered trademark of Fluidion SAS of Creteil, France.

Learn more: DRBC's Bacteria Monitoring Program

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Kate Schmidt, Kate.Schmidt@drbc.gov

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