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Riverkeeper monitors and reviews proposed development projects along the Hudson River that may have adverse impacts on critical habitats. We engage developers, government, and coalitions to practice and promote smart growth and low impact development.
Riverkeeper inserts itself into the development review process by using the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). SEQRA requires that the potential environmental impacts of government actions, such as approving a development project, are thoroughly considered. The SEQRA process allows for public participation, so that government agencies can make a fully informed decision.
Suburban sprawl and large scale waterfront development damage tributaries and the main stem of the Hudson in several ways.
Sprawl is defined by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as “low-density, land consumptive, center-less, auto-oriented development typically located on the outer suburban fringes.”
The Hudson Valley is suffering an onslaught of real estate development at an unprecedented pace and scale. Developers are rapidly building roads, strip malls, office complexes, apartment buildings and residential subdivisions.
Sprawl creates a preponderance of impervious surfaces (roads, parking lots, building footprints). Impervious surfaces devour open space and curtail the landscape’s ability to purify stormwater naturally. Rain collects on impervious surfaces, scours pollutants off roads, gathers velocity, and runs off into the nearest surface waters, damaging the integrity of the Hudson’s headwater streams and impacting the estuary as a whole.
Recent watershed research shows that impervious cover has a profound and often irreversible impact on the quality of aquatic resources. Over thirty scientific studies show that the quality of streams, lakes and wetlands dramatically declines when impervious cover in watersheds exceeds just ten percent.
Sprawl increases traffic, air pollution, noise pollution and infrastructure costs, while degrading water quality, reducing biodiversity and reducing open space.
Waterfront development has direct impacts on waterbodies as a result of stormwater runoff as well as dredge and fill of the shoreline associated with the development.