What’s Up with Devils Brook?

With three monitoring sites along its muddy-bottom main stem and tributaries, the StreamWatch volunteer water quality monitoring program has tracked water quality in the Devils Brook subwatershed for 25 years.

Focusing on the most recent conditions, this assessment includes data collected between 2008 and 2016 by StreamWatch volunteers and staff monitors from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Excess phosphorus has created a chain reaction of negative consequences for several other parameters. While nutrients, like phosphorus and nitrogen, are necessary for a healthy aquatic ecosystem, too much can cause a spike in the growth of algae and other vegetation. Growing beyond their natural amounts, algal die-offs often occur soon afterward which consumes dissolved oxygen, stealing it from aquatic organisms who need it to survive.

Though sensitive species disappear from the stream, bacteria, like the indicator species E. coli, thrive in these nutrient-rich conditions. pH values below the standard 6.5 are also very common in Devils Brook, allowing even more phosphorus to become available for plant uptake. Unfortunately, the combination of these factors leads to a fair rating for the Devils Brook subwatershed.

Sixteen percent of the Devils Brook subwatershed is covered in impervious surfaces, like roads, buildings, and parking lots, which is a leading contributor to negative water quality impacts. This is why we are working diligently across our watershed to develop green strategies to reduce the harmful effects of impervious cover on our waters.

Acknowledgements

Many thanks David and Nicole Wagenblast, Tara Miller, Jennifer and Joanne Wang, Chinmay Sevak, Natalie Martin, Matt Morin, and Daphne Ye for monitoring Devils Brook and its tributaries. The StreamWatch program is funded by Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc, RBC Blue Water Project, Colgate Palmolive Company, Dodge Foundation, and the New Jersey Water Supply Authority.