By Lorraine Metz
The Ramapo River, a small stream on the edge of the Ramapo College campus, is a major contributor to regional public drinking water supplies.
According to NJWaters, the Ramapo River “flows from New York into Bergen County and enters the Pequannock River to form the Pompton River in Wayne Township.” The website also states that “Phosphorous and bacteria are elevated. Sodium and copper may be of concern here and should be watched.” Pollution in the area should be monitored closely to protect the cleanliness and purity of the water supplied to the public in the surrounding areas, the website added.
“Runoff from housing and road construction sites, and runoff from urban surfaces and storm sewers, has contributed significantly to the pollution in the waterways. The construction of Interstate 287 has had a significant impact upon the Ramapo. Habitat loss in this river has been expanded and intensified by local dredging and channelization. The fisheries in the Ramapo are also considered threatened by agricultural activity in the watershed.”
According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the major water quality concerns in the watershed include that storm water runoff is affected by abundant urbanization, suburbanization, and commercial development. Also municipal and residential wastewater discharges are high due to the high population of the area.
There are many concerns with the Ramapo River since it helps provide water for the large population in northern New Jersey as well as Rockland County in New York. Many factors have affected the levels of pollution in the river. One instance was when fish in the Ramapo River were found to be tainted due to chemicals left over from the former Ford plant in Mahwah. The dumped paint sludge and irresponsible removal and dumping of chemicals is affected the wildlife in the water and most certainly the water itself as well, according to the New York State DEC.
An EPA document warns that, “The Ramapo River Basin Aquifer Systems are unconfined, or water-table aquifers, which makes them vulnerable to contamination. In addition, much of the soil overlying the valley fill aquifer in the Ramapo and Mahwah Rivers valleys is highly permeable.” The document continues, “Incidents of contamination have already occurred in the Ramapo River Basin.”
These incidents include findings of water contaminated by volatile organic compounds and heavy metals. Other findings included methyl chloroform in the water supply system in Suffern, New York.
The document concludes by saying that “there are no economically feasible alternative drinking water sources that could replace the Ramapo River Basin Aquifer Systems” With this in mind it’s crucial for the residents of the area to be conscious of pollution and the impacts that could influence their drinking water.
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