June 18, 2019 | 72° F

EDITORIAL: World Water Monitoring Day came late

This being U.’s first year participating in initiative speaks volumes


With the abundance of hurricanes, earthquakes and unusually warm weather, one may wonder how severe global warming has affected the planet. Even NASA has reported “changes in climate not only affect average temperatures, but also extreme temperatures, increasing the likelihood of weather-related natural disasters.” But even if you do not believe that humans are leaving a dangerous imprint on this planet — as they continue to burn fossil fuels, pollute and destroy almost every natural landscape they touch — you can still agree that taking care of the planet is not a bad thing. And if you agree with that, then you will appreciate Rutgers’ new efforts to look after the “good health and stability” of the Raritan River.

These efforts, the result of a partnership between the University and the City of New Brunswick, are a part of World Water Monitoring Day which included volunteers testing and examining the water in the Raritan River.

Despite this being New Brunswick's first year taking part in this initiative, World Water Monitoring Day already includes a group of over 75,000 protected bodies of water from more than 100 participating countries.

So, what happens during World Water Monitoring Day?

At Boyd Park in New Brunswick, volunteers participated in “civic science,” which essentially means everyday people are gathering data. They did this through obtaining water samples, using testing equipment and sampling kits. As they did this, they checked the water’s dissolved oxygen content and its temperature.

With the process of sampling and testing water being so simple, one would think that it has been a process in place for many years. However, this is not the case. In fact, if you go back just a few years, you would find little to no data on the quality of the water. So although Rutgers is doing well to join efforts to improve the water quality, the remnants of bacteria from “dog-poop and garbage” found in the Raritan indicate that this initiative should have come earlier.

This is not the first time the University or New Brunswick have had problems with its water.

In February of 2016, a water utility operator was fire and sentenced to prison for “falsifying water purity test data.” Following this were several other cases of the City of New Brunswick improperly treating water for cleanliness.

Eventually, in January of this year, the city acted upon the bad reputation its water was getting and decided to allocate $15.5 million to improve its water utility. This participation in World Water Monitoring Day is another step toward the improvement of the water.

Efforts to fix something as vital as water should never be looked down upon, but with the size and esteem of the University, it is questionable as to how so many years have gone by without an initiative like this being put in place earlier.

Not only does taking part in events such as World Water Monitoring Day benefit the planet that we live on, but it also benefits the school that we go to. America has a trend of sometimes ignoring issues of water in smaller cities, and Rutgers publicly making efforts to fix this would send a message to everyone else that it puts its community first. It is great that we are finally taking action, but with a university that is 250 years old, having an event to test its river’s water for cleanliness for the first year ever is problematic.

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